One third shed from Round Britain record

Banque Populaire trimaran turns training session into formidable record

Tuesday July 12th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

At 23:06:58 on Friday the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V completed her lap of the British Isles in a time of just 3 days 3 hours 49 minutes and 14 seconds shattering the previous outright record set last year by Sidney Gavignet, singlehanded aboard his Majan Oman Air trimaran. Less than a month after having broken the SNSM Record, Loïck Peyron and his crew took one third off the previous record, which they bettered by 1 day 11 hours 20 minutes and 13 seconds.

On Friday July 1, Banque Populaire had set sail for a week at sea of offshore training. This was initially a training course to prepare for the next Jules Verne Trophy scheduled for the end of this year, however this session quickly became, thanks to a favourable weather forecast, an attempt on Round Britain record.

"We left Lorient for training," reported Peyron. "We quickly found ourselves as Nelson's fleet at the time of the Napoleonic wars and we stationed at the entrance of the Channel, on the lookout, between France and England. The Maxi Banque Populaire V is a record hunter and whenever there is a prey to seize, she does not hesitate. The weather gave us a great opportunity ...".

On Tuesday, 5 July early in the evening, Banque Populaire V set off from the Lizard on her anti-clockwise lap. First up was the Channel and the Strait of Dover. "It was a tough night as the traffic is impressive in that area," recounted Peyron. "I opted for a reasonable solution to meet this heavy traffic by standing on the sidelines. We then went for the North Sea under unfriendly conditions but which allowed us to enjoy the amazing show of the oil platforms. They are always fascinating. Something probably masculine with this machine standing in the middle of the sea."

The blue 40m long maxi trimaran continued her progress towards the Shetland Isles, the northernmost tip of the British Isles. Under reduced visibility Peyron and his crew were forced to slow down: "We had a difficult sea passing these islands and the conditions were really tough. It is ultimately the only time we did not push 100% on the boat." This rare moment of calm was quickly forgotten as they forged across the top and western sides of the Scotaldn and down the Irish coast, around the Fastnet and until the last miles when the big trimaran was hitting 40 knots.

This loop of the UK was completed at the average speed of 23.34 knots, which in fact is relatively slow for the giant tri. The west to east transatlantic record she set in 2009 for example was completed at an average speed of 32.94 knots. However this falls in as the fifth fastest record in the World Sailing Speed Record Council roster.

Peyron gave his assessment of the voyage: “It was very nice and very informative and I was able to deepen my knowledge on the boat. We have sailed as if we were sailing around the world in accordance with shifts and with the precise number of people on deck. We have revised the choreography adapted to each manoeuvre and tried everyone at different positions. Versatility is key aboard this type of boat. Finally, I have discussed a lot with Juan Vila, navigator, about the weather and strategy. We worked with Xavier Revil on the food aspects and reviewed plenty of little details with Pierre-Yves Moreau."

Now safely back in the team's base in Lorient, next up for Banque Populaire V is the Rolex Fastnet Race on 14 August from Cowes.

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