Fossett regains record

Close run thing as PlayStation crosses Ramsgate finish line. Steve Fossett discussed his plans from now on

Friday October 25th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
PlayStation, the world's largest racing catamaran, emerged from the mist this morning off Ramsgate to shave 55 minutes off Maiden 2's record for sailing non-stop around the British Isles. This was vindication for American millionaire Steve Fossett who is the long term holder of this record and only lost it in September to Tracy Edwards' team.

After making sterling progress in the early stages of the record as a low pressure system slowly moved across the UK and up towards Norway, the possibility of breaking the record began to look shakey when the big cat was becalmed between Ireland and the Scilly Isles.

Fortunately the wind re-established and the 125ft Morrelli-Melvin-designed cat was able to cruise the length of the English Channel averaging more than 20 knots. They crossed the finish line off the Royal Temple Yacht Club at Ramsgate at 07:47GMT this morning in the process setting a new record time of 4 days 16 hours 9 minutes and 36 seconds (pending ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council).

Their average speed for the 1,787 nm course is 15.93 knots.

Skipper Steve Fossett commented on the run: "This is great - a big success - very hard won. We've worked hard all night! We went out on a major weather system. Luc Trullemans' forecast and start decision were key. Every one of the boats targeting this record has been unable to sail fast all the way around - ourselves included. But we did pretty well, making up a big deficit over the past 24 hours."

Sailing on board for this record were:

Steve Fossett (USA) Skipper / Watch Captain
Chris Tibbs (England) Navigator
David Scully (USA) Watch Captain
Gino Morrelli (USA) Watch Captain
Quentin Dimmer (Scotland) Crew
Mitch Booth (Australia) Crew
Mikaela (Miki) Von Koskull (Finland)
Howie Hamlin (USA) Crew
Simon Cotter (Eire) Crew
Mark Featherstone (England) Crew
Richard James (Australia) Crew
Nick Leggatt (South Africa) Crew
David Thomson (England) Crew
Fraser Brown (NZ) Crew

Luc Trullemans (Belgium) is Chief Meteorologist working from his Brussels base.

So what next for Steve Fossett and his mega-cat? Fossett was considering an attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy for sailing non-stop around the world. However although Michelob Ultra have come in as a sponsor, they haven't come in as title sponsor to replace PlayStation.

"We're not scheduled to go," Fossett told The Daily Sail. "We've not succeeded in getting a sponsor. To do the Jules Verne you need sponsorship, so that you really do the full preparation, with a full professional crew. So far we don’t have a full sponsorship. We have a new partial – Michelob Ultra, a new brand of beer. "

However Fossett says that if they do succeed in their search for sponsorship, they will go.
"A couple of the other boats are frustrated with the search for sponsorship to do a Jules Verne so I think I'd do it if I do find a sponsor. It would be an excellent boat to do the Jules Verne and we have a number of people who want to sail on it!"

Fossett says if they do find the money the ideal time to go would be on the right weather pattern between 1 January and mid-March.

"It will be a very exciting situation, if we get sponsorship and Tracy gets sponsorship," says Fossett. "It will effectively be a race around the world, with no compromises on the course - that would be awesome."

"We would favour the idea of going at the same time. Obviously with a mutual agreement on going on a good forecast. I favour the idea of doing record attempts in conjunction with other boats. I think if that can be done, it needs to be done with full disclosure of positions, so each team is generating its own publicity for its sponsor. Doing it that way would be effect competition not only for us sailors but also for our sponsors."

However this all depends upon getting a sponsor. If they don't get one Fossett says they will take the boat back to Cadiz and then hang around to do a Route of Discovery record. After that he is uncertain of what they will do - but there is little need to have another crack at the west to east transatlantic record.

"We’re very satisfied with the time we put up on that one a year ago – we’ll let others have a try at that one before we do anything about it! I prefer the North Atlantic for the time being. As long as we have good ideas in the Atlantic we'll stay here, if we run out of great ideas, then that would be the time to look elsewhere."

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