Another new record, but will they make Lizard in time?
"I'm naturally very pleased about what we have just achieved... Going beyond 700 miles, after having been part of the first crew to break the 600 mile barrier in 24 hours (on Club Med, back in 2000), just shows how much progress has been made!" explained Bruno Peyron this afternoon, still with his mind on the job, but clearly delighted.
The 120ft maxi-catamaran Orange II managed to swallow up 703 miles, then just before 01:04 GMT the record soared to 706.2 miles in 24 hours. Both times are awaiting ratification by the WSSRC, whom Peyron must supply with GPS evidence of the boat's position as well as it's position 12 hours before and 12 hours after the record before the distance can be officially ratified. This process is unlikely to happen until the end of the week according to WSSRC Secretary, John Reed.
The previous record held by Tracy Edwards' maxi-cat Maiden 2 skippered by Brian Thompson, Helena Darvelid and Adrienne Cahalan who over 12-13 June 2002 sailed 694.78 nautical miles at an average speed of 28.95 knots.
"We wanted this boat to be the fastest yacht in the world, and I think today that we weren't that wrong about it," added Peyron, while his thoroughbred was still galloping away, with all her sails out, chasing a goal that in the end appears more within reach than it seemed when they were setting out from New York.
"It seemed to us that the window of opportunity offered by the weather was right for an attempt on the Atlantic, and it seems today that it is perhaps better than we imagined... In any case, we are managing to sail faster than planned, and in an hour's time we'll be 48 hours away from the deadline [at the time of the conversation - 14:15 MT]. There are exactly 1,200 miles separating us from the finishing line - you will have worked it out for yourselves - but it isn't as simple as the figures would have us believe. After all, things are much more haphazard at sea than on paper.
"The wind should come around in the next 2 or 3 hours, and we're going to have to be extremely careful about choosing the right moment to gybe, as it's going to be down to a question of the angle to the wind what happens next. Above all, I want to avoid gybing in the Irish Sea, so that's why we're looking for the best route possible, which will allow us to return on just one tack".
As the wind veers slowly from the southwest to the north west, it should enable them to carry out the gybe they have been waiting to do, and this will put Orange II back on direct course. This should take place late in the day... The only thing is that the low pressure area off to the north of the maxi-catamaran is in the process of overtaking them, and the skies were brightening above the deck: "This is an improvement in the conditions, which is more of a worry to us than something to be pleased about", said Peyron, "you have to know just how close you can get to the fine weather without burning your wings. The wind is on the left, but if we turn too quickly, we'll have the wind coming at the wrong angle and the speed will drop off...
"The compromise solution will be found in the next two or three hours, and I'm in permanent contact with the weather experts back on dry land to decide on exactly the right moment to start to carry out the manoeuvre. We'll know the outcome, whatever happens, in the next 20 hours, but there's no way we can ease off. We're sailing with the gennaker fully out, and adjusting things to make sure we're getting the most out of the boat all the time. She is reacting very well, and even if we're pushing her very hard, we haven't broken anything at all!".