Groupe Bel on the Transmed record

Kito de Pavant sets off singlehanded for Tunisia

Wednesday June 3rd 2009, Author: Julia Huve, Location: United Kingdom
Kito de Pavant's Open 60 Groupe Bel has set sail on an attempt to become the fastest singlehanded monohull to sail the 458 mile Transmed course between Marseille and Carthage, Tunisia.

This is the first time since de Pavant's prematurely ended Vendée Globe (he dismasted while still in the Bay of Biscay), that the French skipper will be enjoying solo sailing his Open 60.

The red 'laughing cow' 60 crossed the starting line for the record, located east of the Pomègues Lighthouse on the Islands of Frioul, on Tuesday at 19h 58mn 46s (GMT+1). in a 10-12 knots of wind.

Although the weather conditions he has set off in are not brilliant, it comes with some advantages. De Pavant reckons he will be able to make the crossing of the Mediterranean without gybing; a maneouvre that is both time and energy consuming. The WNWerly wind should back to the west to the south of Sardinia propelling Groupe Bel towards the Tunisian coast. Of course, as it is often the case in the Mediterranean, theory and reality can be wildly differing things, but de Pavant estimates that his crossing should take about 30 hours... Inch'allah!

A few minutes before leaving the Vieux Port under a scorching Marseille sun, de Pavant looked ahead at the passage: "The singlehanded record on board Groupe Bel is totally new to me and that's what makes it fun. For once, I'm only up against the clock and since I'm the only competitor on the starting line, I'm at least sure to get off to a good start (laughs)! Seriously though, this crossing will help me regain confidence in the boat singlehanded and to test Groupe Bel in her 2009 version. I am practically in Solitaire du Figaro mode, which means that I'm getting ready to stay awake for almost 30 hours. It's also very exciting trying to put the weather situation to good use, and to singlehandedly adapt to the slightest wind variations. The wind forecast is not very strong, but the direction is particularly advantageous for the whole passage. I should be able to make a pretty sharp turn once I'm south of Sardinia and shorten the route to Carthage as much as possible. We are in the Mediterranean and between what computers say and what I'll actually experience at sea, both good surprises and not so good ones are always possible!"

The record will be monitored by the WSSRC who have sent out an official time keeper to the start and finish

Present Transmed records:

Multihull with crew:
Franck Cammas on Groupama 3 (16/05/09) in 17days, 8 min, 23 sec (26.72 kts)

Monohull with crew:
Giovanni Agnelli on Stealth (Sept.1998) in 1day, 5hrs, 2 min, 6 sec (15.77 kts)

Monohull single-handed:
Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty (March 2008) in 1 day, 21 hrs, 24 min (10 kts)

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