Club Med - Update from Portugal

Dalton reckons the maxi-cat should be within reach of 650 miles in 24 hours - story by Ivor Wilkins/
Grant Dalton and his team, preparing their giant catamaran Club Med for The Race, are planning to make an assault on their own 24-hour speed record before the Dec. 31 start in Barcelona. Currently based in Vilamoura on the Algarve coast of southern Portugal, the Club Med crew members have spent a week on sponsor commitments. Always at the back of their minds, however, is the goal of improving on the 625.7-mile, 24-hour run they made in June during their first Atlantic crossing -- plus the more pressing objective of being ready for the round-the-world sprint early next year. Back in 1989, when Dalton spearheaded his first Whitbread Round the World Race campaign as skipper of the maxi Fisher & Paykel New Zealand, he had the number '400' applied to the mainsail. This served as a target and inspiration: The goal was to hit 400 miles in 24 hours, which had never been done before in a mono-hull. Although Dalton never hit the magic number, he wasn’t far off in estimating 400 miles. A decade later, the crewed mono-hull record is 449.10 miles, which the Whitbread 60 Silk Cut set in the 1997-98 race around the world. Club Med doesn’t have any such talisman emblazoned on its mainsail, but Dalton is confident that the team can add some 30 miles to its existing record. 'I definitely think there is 650 miles in this boat. I don’t think we will get to 700,' he said. Even 650 miles seems an awfully ambitious target, requiring an average of 27 knots. The 700-mile dream seems inconceivable, demanding an average of more than 29 knots. But Dalton says improvements made to the 110-foot catamaran, plus the team’s growing ability to extract more and more performance, should bring the 650-mile target within reach. 'For the first three to