Gold and silver for Orange II

31 minutes short of PlayStation's transat record, skipper Bruno Peyron feels it was still a job well done

Thursday August 26th 2004, Author: Benedicte Etienne, Location: Transoceanic
31 short minutes and 12 tiny seconds or just 15 miles. These figures, derisory if you take into account the size of the north Atlantic Ocean, represent exactly the amount by which the crew of Orange II missed out on breaking the North Atlantic record! Forced, as he feared this morning, to put in a gybe to get back on a direct course, Bruno Peyron crossed the finishing line at 15:43:56 GMT this afternoon exactly half an hour after his time was up.. The 10 men still deserve the satisfaction of knowing the job was well done, as well as setting a new 24 hour record, which will surely enter the annals of ocean racing...

They believed it was possible right up to the end, and it was a great story. Never easing off, putting aside their tiredness and keeping their nervous tension under control, the 10 crew aboard Orange II will have gone as far as the weather conditions would allow. Facing up to wind condition that made it necessary to make detours, they compensated for this with their phenomenal speed, covering extra miles to remain within the time right up to the final lengths! Their efforts have been rewarded with a new 24 hour record (706.2 miles, awaiting confirmation from the World Sailing Speed Record Council), crowning this pioneering crew, the first men to go beyond the 700 mile barrier!

WLooking at it from an overall point of view, there are more positive things than negative to look back on after this adventure," commented skipper Bruno Peyron. "The result is beyond our hopes, bearing in mind that we set out after only a short period of ten days or so on stand-by... We set a new 24 hour record, reached a maximum speed of 39 knots, and apart from just a few minutes, equalled the reference time, in spite of a course that was much less favourable. The wind angles didn't help us, especially at the end of the race, when we had to tack for an hour: strangely enough, we can see part of this unplanned, extra hour in the final result!

"We know that the boat, which we have learnt to control now, is capable of smashing the record... We pushed her all the way, and were ready to take some risks of course, as when you set yourself such a challenge, that is something you have to do: it is surprising that given these conditions we didn't break anything at all, except for a key on the computer keyboard, and I'd like to say thanks now to the team, who got the boat ready, as they really did a wonderful job.

"We just won ourselves a gold medal for smashing the 24 hour record, and a silver medal too for achieving the second best time on the route and coming so close to the record, and that is something we can feel pleased about... And I can't forget that in the annual position chart for giant cats, which was established in the framework of The Race and which will soon be back in the news, we must have leaped ahead! So, of course, we like to win, but there are no bitter feelings aboard, and we really believe we fully accomplished our mission."

Orange II is currently heading for La Baule, where they will have a short stopover tomorrow before returning to Marseilles, the boat's home port.

Steve Fossett, who remains the holder of this record on PlayStation, sent this to his crew this afternoon:

"It is remarkable that Bruno Peyron and his Orange crew very nearly broke our PlayStation TransAtlantic Record of 4 days 17 hours 28 minutes. When we took over 43 hours off of the prior record which stood 11 years, I thought that would be good enough to stand for 5 years. The standard of Speed Sailing is going up incredibly fast. Now in less than 3 years, Orange is knocking on the door. Their performance is outstanding in every respect: boat, strategy, and especially the crew.

"We are honoured every time they attempt one of our records and they are going to be strong contenders in their next attempts: Marseilles-Carthage then the Round the World. These are the most exciting times ever in Speed Sailing.

All the best, Steve"

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