Guillemot sets off on solo transatlantic record

Safran skipper gunning for Alex Thomson's record

Friday June 28th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

Marc Guillemot and his IMOCA 60 Safran set off from New York last night at 23:19 GMT on an attempt to win the monohull singlehanded west to east transatlantic record between the Ambrose Light off the mouth of New York harbour and the Lizard. In fact the record attempt has since become a race, with Polish Vendee Globe comptitor Zbigniew Gutkowski who set off at the same time as Safran.

The goal is to try to smash the current record set by Alex Thomson aboard Hugo Boss in July 2012 of 8 days, 21 hours, 8 minutes and 31 seconds. Thomson managed to improve on Bernard Stamm’s old record time by more than one day, a record the Swiss skipper had held for ten years.

To achieve this, Safran will have to cross the line south of The Lizard by 20:27:31 GMT on Saturday, 6 July. This means maintaining an average speed of more than 13.7 knots over the 2880 mile long course.

It will also involve overcoming a number of hurdles en route: thick mists off Canada, fishing boats, whales, shipping…

Marc Guillemot was looking forward to this record: “It is important for two reasons: Firstly, the delivery trip to New York allowed us to sail across the Atlantic and make technical progress aboard the boat, take measures and check out the work we did during the winter. But the North Atlantic record is a goal in itself, something we really want to aim for to enable me to get over the disappointment of the Vendée Globe. Alex Thomson had a remarkable crossing keeping up an average of 14 knots on the direct route. We have to do even better than that…”

Weather ace Jean-Yves Bernot is routing Safran. One of the many difficulties with this legendary crossing is finding the right weather opportunity. Bernot comments on the present weathre window: “The opportunity looks very good for the start of the attempt. At the start there will be plenty of wind, but not too much: a SSWerly of around 30 knots. Marc will be following a low-pressure area, which formed to the south of the Great Lakes and will move right across to the longitude of the Azores. Halfway throigh the crossing, he will experience less wind, but it still remains interesting. Ideally, he will be hoping for another low-pressure area to develop behind him. The record takes around 8 days and the forecasts are only reliable for 4-5 days: so for the time being, the conditions for the end of the crossing are not that reliable. There is still some uncertainty and it will be down to good luck, but that is what you expect with these records. It all depends on small details in any case."

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