Fastnet record Fossett's

But disappointment for the crew and news of an interesting program for the year

Sunday March 17th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Steve Fossett's PlayStation raced into Plymouth Sound at 03.41.07 this morning setting a new record for the Fastnet Race course.

The world's longest racing catamaran covered the passage from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock and back to Cowes in an elapsed time of 35 hours, 17 minutes and 14 second. They took just over five hours off the existing record for the course set in the 1999 Fastnet Race by Loick Peyron's 60ft trimaran Fujicolor, although it should be pointed out that Peyron wasn't allowed the luxury of picking the optimum weather conditions in which to leave.

The new time is still awaiting ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. But for PlayStation's crew the time, although considerably faster than the record, came as a disappointment. "We were hoping for an under 30 hour record- that would have been quite achievable," commented Dave Scully, who has recently taken over from Ben Wright as PlayStation's Boat Captain and was watch leader for the record.

The set back was that the forecast provided by PlayStation's Belgium and US weather forecasters didn't pan out as expected. Scully commented that the trouble with getting the weather right for this record was to find conditions where the wind veered or backed in such a way to keep the boat on a reach for the maximum amount of time.

The125ft monster cat set sail in light to moderate conditions on Friday afternoon and maintained an average speed in the low 20s under main and blast reacher towards the Fastnet Rock. They rounded at 1030 Saturday morning, just 18 hours after they had started. However Scully said they slowed up as they found themselves on to a one track beat to get to Bishop Rock."We hardened up and started coming back and that's when the wind instead of veering it actually backed," he commented.

Once round Bishop Rock it was foot to the floor again and Scully believes they averaged 25 knots back to Plymouth, covering this 100 mile stretch of water in just four hours. "We finished in increasing winds which rapidly built to gale force," he said, "we were cruising at that point!". He added that it had only got hair-raising on the approach to Plymouth Sound when they had flown in past the breakwater on to a leeshore and only then could apply the breaks.

During the record PlayStation stood up well, the only breakage being Scully's nose following a mistimed leap from the boom after a reef.

Aside from Fossett and Scully, on board were Australian navigator Adrienne Cahalan and Helena Darvelid, who will now return to the South of France to rejoin Tracy Edwards's maxi-cat which is expected to go back into the water to make her first outing this week. Other crewmen were Peter Hogg, Dave Calvert (USA), Brad Cavanagh (USA), Simon Cotter (UK), Helena Darvelid (SWE), Pete Berry (UK), Quentin Dimmer (UK), Dave Weir (USA) and Mark Featherstone (UK).

On page two see what lies in store for PlayStation now...

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