Yesterday afternoon the 110ft catamaran only had to average 7.1 knots for the remaining 100 miles to finish inside the existing record held by Steve Fossett. But early this morning Channel winds faded to nothing as the maxi cat was just 2.5 miles from the line.
An hour later the wind filled in from the opposite direction and the cat clawed her way towards the finish line off Ventnor under full mainsail and genniker beneath a fabulous early morning sky. Orange eventually crossed the line and had her finish time recorded by the World Sailing Speed Record Council representative at 07:28:30 BST, just one and a half hours too late.
On his arrival Bruno Peyron commented, "what a funny experience this Round Britain and Ireland record attempt has been. There were just a few miles left to go this morning and we were still ahead of the record averaging a speed of just 5 knots and then in the last few miles we were stuck in an unforgettable dead calm and there was nothing we could do about it. That's the way the cookie crumbles. The clock decides and we've got no choice but to accept it. But we'll be back!
"We felt more like we were taking part in a race than on a speed record attempt, because we had left without waiting for the best conditions. The Round Britain and Ireland Record is an amazing and somewhat difficult course, with some tricky and highly tactical bits to it. We've got a great team and I don't think we made many mistakes. We set out in what was supposed to be the quickest way round in view of the weather information we had and the analysis of Roger Nilson on board and Roger 'Clouds' Badham on terra firma in Australia.
"We gave it 100 % throughout, never taking our foot off the gas, except after the Shetland Islands, where the sea was very rough."
"Of course we are very disappointed to have missed the record by so little, but we have come up smiling anyway as we've had a great 5 days together."
The sale of the maxi-catamaran to Offshore Challenges goes ahead in October. In meantime Peyron will continue his promotion for The Race 2004 and The Race with stops in 2006 by taking Orange back to the Med to attempt the transMed record from Marseilles to Carthage and the around Corsica record.
Key facts of record attempt
MONDAY AUGUST 12TH At 0914 and 13 seconds ORANGE crossed a line south of Ventnor and began clockwise circumnavigation of Britain and Ireland.
TUESDAY AUGUST 13TH Passed Scilly Isles in early morning heading for west coast of Ireland, 3 hours ahead of record time.
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 14TH Sailing north off Ireland's west coast in light winds, ORANGE falls of the record breaking pace, but gales were forecast and the team were confident that they could reel in the miles. The forecast was correct and ORANGE was hit by a Force 8 gale with waves hitting the crew with such force that simply looking ahead to steer was hard. As the seas built, sleep was virtually impossible and the movement was so dramatic on board that the off watch crew slept with their legs facing forwards, so that when the catamaran slammed into the biggest waves their legs acted as shock absorbers as they were flung into the bulkheads.
THURSDAY AUGUST 15TH Rounded Shetland Islands in the early morning, the gales had boosted the chances of the record breaking attempt. ORANGE was now 12 hours ahead of the record. This margin was eroded during the day as ORANGE was pounded by heavy seas and headwinds.
FRIDAY AUGUST 16TH ORANGE in the North Sea sailing far off the British coast and heading south in generally light winds. Still ahead of record time by up to six hours but the weather was not in their favour. Forecast of headwinds and light winds due on Saturday.
SATURDAY AUGUST 17TH Good early morning south easterly winds. ORANGE sailed through the Straits of Dover in the early afternoon.
SUNDAY AUGUST 18TH ORANGE gets becalmed 2 miles off the finish line and fails to beat the record.
See more photos on page 2...
Orange ghosts towards the Ventnor finish line