Photo: Chris Schmid / Spindrift Racing

Spindrift 2 underway

Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard's maxi tri sets sail on Route of Discovery record

Wednesday October 30th 2013, Author: Virginie Bouchet, Location: Portugal

The world’s largest racing trimaran, Spindrift 2 set off on her attempt on the Route of Discovery record today at 15:19:34 UTC. The route takes the 40m long VPLP giant from Cadiz to San Salvador in the Bahamas, via the Canaries, the present record set in 2007 by Franck Cammas and the maxi trimaran Groupama 3.

Co-skippers Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard and the 12 crew must finish before Thursday, 7 November at 02:17:27 to beat the current record of 7 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes and 53 seconds (21.70 knots of average speed).

The attempt comes after four months of preparation. The Route of Discovery attempt is the first record attempt and the first step for the team's program of races and a first transatlantic adventure for Dona Bertarelli. The Swiss sailor's crew combines both youth and experience.

A favourable weather window

On standby in Portimao in southern Portugal since 7 October, Spindrift 2 is taking advantage the first serious weather window to arrive following a long period of depressions that have thwarted their leaving previously. From the start, the maxi trimaran should pick up the strong northerlies that will propel her towards Gran Canaria, which they must leave to starboard. This will involve a series of gybes while there remains a rough sea state to contend with from the recent storm activity.

"The boat is ready, the crew is ready, and the excitement of departure has gradually taken a hold over us", says Dona Bertarelli.

Guichard adds: “A fine weather window has presented itself to us following three weeks of intense preparation. Conditions on the Atlantic look promising for Spindrift 2 to beat this record. It is a very long distance, and quite naturally, some uncertainties remain over the whole course. Although the situation is clearer regarding the finish zone in the Bahamas. With this sustained northerly, we will have to deal with a low lying system at the end of the fifth or sixth day of racing, an area of transition that we will have to manage with care and skill…”

A 'tense and tricky' start

Out of Cadiz, Spindrift 2 will face difficult sea conditions. "Nothing we can’t handle" Bertarelli assures. "But rough sea is not favourable for high speeds…” Unfortunately the downwind conditions, are a little too dead downwind for the trimaran’s ideal course, so for the first 30 hours they will have to carry out a series of gybes to reach Gran Canaria.

"We should then be not far off the Mauritania coastline," Bertarelli continues, "and we must be alert to traffic, fishing boats and other craft ... especially since there is no moon. These early hours will be stressful and will require full attention and concentration of the crew. We expect to get minimum rest and to have to forsake the watch rota we have planned; everyone will be on deck!”

Then there should be three fine days of trade wind conditions, during which Spindrift 2 will be able to reach her full potential. "It will be from then, and only from then that we will be more calm", continues Guichard. "Our course will pass through the north in order to get the best wind angle”.

Then there is the strategic mentioned to make the best transition from one system to another. "The collaboration and exchanges between our onshore router Richard Silvani, Erwan Israel (navigator) and myself will be intense", explains Guichard.

Bertarelli adds: "This is the most uncertain part of the race, and the most exciting. This is the phase of the course that contains the most unknown elements, and we will have to be positive to keep all our chances going..."

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