Trio head out for Round Britain attempt

Perfect conditions bring the record breakers out of the woodwork

Thursday September 5th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Some secret squirrel behaviour has been going on in the world of the maxi multihulls as during the course of today not one, not two...but three giant multihulls may set off to attempt the record for sailing non-stop Round Britain and Ireland.

This record is currently held by Steve Fossett's old 60ft trimaran Lakota with a time of 5 days 21 hours 5 minutes and 27 seconds. The record was recently attempted by Bruno Peyron's maxi catamaran Orange, who fell at the final hurdle - becalmed within sight of the finish line.

Tracy Edwards' Maiden II and the radical foiler trimaran L'Hydrotere are planning to set off from the Isle of Wight for an anti-clockwise attempt (in the opposite direction to Orange) leaving from a line off Ventnor on the south east side of the Isle of Wight.

Tracy Edwards told madfor sailing that Maiden2 is going out to Ventnor later this morning to assess whether the conditions do indeed look right for leaving.
"There is some interesting weather and we're going use it as a training exercise and if they break the record then great," said Edwards, adding that her crew have been getting a dose of cabin fever in recent weeks as her complex sponsor negotiations continue.

Mikaela von Koskull, Helena Darvelid and Fraser Brown are watch captains for the trip while Sue Crafer is navigating on board with the routing assistance of Adrienne Cahalan on shore. Helena Darvelid and Brian Thompson are familiar with this passage as they were both part of Steve Fossett's crew when Lakota set the existing record.

The weather, although becoming complex over the weekend, could be perfect to make the attempt. An intense low pressure system is trundling across the Atlantic in a north easterly direction but looks set to slow up and stop to the north of the British Isles.

Weather charts show a cold front crossing the UK today and this will make for a light run down to Dover followed by slightly stronger southeasterly conditions for the passage up the North Sea. If the low stops to the north of the British isles this should provide strong northerly winds perfect for taking the boats southwest to St Kilda and then on down past the Outer Hebrides and the Irish coast. If this forecast holds true and barring disaster, the big multihulls should easily demolish Fossett's record.

While Maiden II, the sistership to Orange, is more than capable of pulverising the record set by Lakota, a boat almost half her size, the more interesting passage will be that of L'Hydrotere. This will be the first, and one has to say rather ambitious, record attempt for the French foiler and while she is clearly capable of outstanding pace, is her crew capable of sustaining this over what will be her longest passage? Aside from this - will she hold together structurally?

The third boat to set off on her attempt is also more than capable of breaking the record too: Olivier de Kersauson's maxi-trimaran Geronimo is now back in action with modifications to her rudder following her aborted Jules Verne attempt earlier this year and repaired following the ramming she received by an out of control Figaro boat while she was tied up at the dock.

Geronimo presumably will also be heading anti-clockwise around, but will be starting from the Lizard rather than off the Isle of Wight.

"The return of westerly winds in September should give us what we need to attack this record," commented Geronimo's highly experienced skipper Olivier de Kersauson. "The route is around 1000 kilometres north to south and travels through a complex series of sea conditions, especially the entry to the English Channel, the northerly stretch of the Irish Sea and northern Scotland: in fact, when you pass Shetland to the north, you're virtually in polar air. The course will take us through three weather systems northward and three more on the return leg, with many micro-systems in between."

De Kersauson is also using this as a shakedown for his new rudder prior to embarking on a fresh set of record attempts beginning with the Route odf Discovery from Cadiz to Salvador in the Bahamas and ultimately the Jules Verne Trophy over the winter.

"The Round Britain and Ireland route is very rough, extremely complex, but a lot of fun, whilst the Discovery Route is really a gliding course which takes us through two weather systems at the most. On the other hand, the return from San Salvador will be more interesting, because we will be crossing the North Atlantic after the November weather systems have become established, so the seas are likely to be strong," continues Olivier de Kersauson.

madfor sailing will be regularly updated with the progress of the boats as and when we receive the information.

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