Banque Populaire on stand-by

With the addition of Brian Thompson to its crew

Thursday November 4th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Moored at the Port du Chateau in Brest since 20 October, the Maxi Trimaran Banque Populaire is ready for her big rendezvous: the Jules Verne Trophy. As of 1 November, Pascal Bidegorry and his Team have officially entered their stand-by period, during which weather data will be scrutinised very closely to undertake and beat the referenced time of this circumnavigation around the globe.

All set for departure

The Banque Populaire Team is all set. Strong from their experience and success on the North Atlantic crossings, the 24 hours record and more recently the trans-Mediterranean record, Pascal Bidegorry and the 14 crew on board and their onshore router, Marcel van Triest, peacefully deal with the beginning of the stand-by period: “We are fully prepared since the Maxi Banque Populaire is moored in Brest," says Bidegorry. "We have now been focusing on the weather and stand ready to seize the slightest opportunity. Marcel van Triest and Juan Villa, our on board navigator, work together regularly as new weather data fall every six hours. For my part, I have two daily meetings with them in order to get a more accurate picture of the weather. However I try to be more detached from the presence requirement of the stand-by period. Jeremie Beyou is thus in charge of the crew at this time. We have adapted our organisation based on lessons learned from our previous records."

Forced to delay their attempt last year due to the absence of a satisfactory weather window, the skipper concedes that “ideally I would like it not to last! I was at the start of the Route du Rhum in Saint-Malo last weekend and I can admit that I felt envious. First the show was beautiful and I really enjoyed seeing all those multihulls sailing, but also because they knew they were leaving at 13h02 on Sunday! The issue with records is that you never know when you leave. We have a vision for a few days only. The objective for us is to try to live this period the best possible way and to have a simple life outside the stand-by, for those working on land and for our families."

The international view

British maxi-multihull veteran Brian Thompson, who set a new round the world record with Steve Fossett aboard Cheyenne in 2004, does not hide neither his keen-ness to set sail. “I am really looking forward to it. To me, the Banque Populaire is clearly the greatest ocean racing multihull ever built, because it’s the latest, the biggest one and because it has proved itself by getting the transatlantic and the 24 hour records, which are the benchmark for speed !”

However, based in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, the logistic is not the same for the British sailor. “The plan is that 24 hours before a possible departure, the crew is asked to come to Lorient. Then we monitor the weather, prepare everything and then move to Brest before departure. I think we will be going quite soon, but if there is a possibility that we are not going for a long time, then the Team will regularly gather and spend some time together training in Lorient.”

It can be felt that, while it is now time to wait for a favorable weather system, there is a fierce desire to go from the whole Banque Populaire team. Systems and their evolutions will be thoroughly analyzed to give Pascal and his men the opportunity to depart and beat the referenced time established last winter by Franck Cammas and his crew in 48 days, 7 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds.

Have fun trying to spot Brian...

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