Spindrift 2 ahead of the record
Having reached the island of Gran Canaria yesterday at 1800 - a required mark of course that must be left to starboard - the 40m maxi-trimaran Spindrift 2 is now races along the tradewind highway, propelled across the Atlantic by a strong northeasterly.
Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard and their crew of 12 are eating up the miles. A second day of good high speeds follows the first 24 hours of rough seas and three highly strategic gybes that resulted in a 642 mile day. With a good VMG and average speeds of over 30 knots, Spindrift 2 has already covered over one third of the 2,880 mile course in just 48 hours.
Spindrift 2’s theoretical advance on the current Route of Discovery record continues to increase (up 232 miles this morning) through the combined effect of a faster speed and being able to take a more direct route than that chosen by the present record holder Groupama 3. According to estimates looked at before the start by Spindrift 2’s skippers and crew, assisted by weather router ashore Richard Silvani, the first two days in the Atlantic are conducive to the highest performance and a substantial gain on the record, with the trade winds slightly unstable in direction, but still blowing strongly at over 25 knots.
“We are well set up for two days of fast starboard tack sailing,” confirms Guichard. “We could have a few gybes to reposition ourselves to not get too close to the heart of the depression and keep the right trade wind angle. The passage at the Canaries went well and without incident despite the windless patches we had at times went it dropped from 27/28 knots to 7/8. We were able to do an arc on our course to the south of the islands to avoid having to gybe. This saved us having to do a gybe and manoeuvring in rough seas, a delicate operation on the world’s largest trimaran and especially in high winds.
“The sea condition is today once again the factor limiting our speed, although we are racing well. Something that is rare to do on Spindrift 2, is to ballast and yesterday we decided to do this, not so much to avoid diving but more to try and have smoother sailing.
“The entire crew has wholeheartedly embraced the pace of the record and ocean life. All eyes are permanently on both crew and equipment". We try to make as few demands as possible on the material, especially the sails and rigging. It is all about staying in tune with the elements, to sail fast in the best wind angle when the sea state allows for it and then to slow down when it is a little less favourable.”
Rested, despite the uncomfortable conditions, rising temperature inside the boat and the constant spray on deck, the crew of Spindrift 2 know the hardest part is yet to come. "In 2007 Groupama had a difficult start before a highly charged finish, and we are especially concerned with the transition zones coming up midcourse. We should therefore expect to have to see our speed dropping," concludes Guichard.