Pascal Bidegorry and the crew of the 40m trimaran Banque Populaire set off this morning from the Port du Chateau in Brest and crossed the start line of their attempt on Groupama 3's record for the Jules Verne Trophy at 11:11:45 GMT. Bidegorry and his 13 crew will have to return across the same line between the L'Creach lighthouse and the Lizard Point in less than 48 days, 7 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds in order to beat Groupama 3's time, set by Franck Cammas and his crew in March 2010.
At just before 0800 GMT this morning Banque Populaire left the dock. With the excitement of leaving after so many weeks of waitingg and the emotion of leaving families, the moment was highly charged for the 14 crew.
Extremely focussed making this first attempt counter, Bidegorry was happy to leave, even if the weather conditions are not as clear as he might like: "We will be leaving downwind and sailing around a depression. To the south of this depression, we cannot deny the fact that the forecast is not straight forward. However, we have been waiting for this moment for a long time and we cannot let this opportunity go. I am really excited to be going to sea and I really think that we deserve it. I am looking forward to tomorrow morning, tomorrow night or in two days time and realising: 'that’s it ! We’re there!'. These stand-by periods are somewhat painful and I am really looking forward to saying that we are in the Jules Verne Trophy, the objective of the past four years. This is a great moment in my life."
Indeed, the weather situation is not that clear over the Atlantic, as the sole Anglo-Saxon crewman Brian Thompson explained just before leaving the dock: “We are confronted by two different weather models: the European and the American ones. They are showing us different things, so we decided to go for the pessimistic one, the European, in order to avoid falling into light winds. In fact, there is a low pressure off the Canaries which is going to kill the trade winds a little bit and then another massive low crossing the Atlantic. As this latter one comes closer, it might completely kill the trade winds. We are just trying to sneak pass a little low over the Canaries, turn round that and get down to the South before the big depression comes over.”
This will be no mean feat. But now at least they have a date in the diary - they must return across the same line as they set out from today no later than 11 March at 19:55:37 if they wish to sail into the record books.
Maxi Banque Populaire V’s crew list
Off Watch :
Pascal Bidégorry : skipper
Juan Vila : navigator
Yvan Ravussin : Watch leader, in charge of video and composite
Brian Thompson : Helmsman / Trimmer
Thierry Chabagny : Helmsman / Trimmer
Pierre-Yves Moreau : Bowman, in charge of fittings and composite
Fred Le Peutrec : Watch leader
Emmanuel Le Borgne : Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of medics
Erwan Tabarly : Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of electonics
Ronan Lucas : Bowman, in charge of security
Jérémie Beyou : Watch leader
Kevin Escoffier: Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of video
Xavier Revil : Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of food
Florent Chastel : Bowman, in charge of medics and rigging
Marcel van Triest : Shore weather router