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Orange II sets off for Atlantic record attempt

by Agence Mer & Média 1 Jul 2006 07:40 BST

This time they’re off! After studying the latest weather charts during the night and talking it over once more with his weather unit, the skipper of the Orange II maxi-catamaran set off early this morning the long awaited green code alert. The start itself for Orange II on her latest attempt at the North Atlantic crewed record will take place on Sunday, in a time slot somewhere between 12h and 18h GMT. The crew is already flying and should be reaching the giant in Newport during the evening.

Everyone in the plane en route for Newport

It was at 8 o’clock this morning that Bruno Peyron and half of the crew of Orange II boarded a flight going from Paris to New York. Early this afternoon, the rest of the team followed suit. The aim is to get to Newport this evening in order to finish off the boat’s preparation. They intend to cast off tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon to head for the starting line, which is located 150 miles north of New York, or around ten hours sailing, which explains why the pressure is on, as far as the schedule is concerned.

A crew trained to go on the attack

At this moment in time, when everyone is thinking about football, a lot has been said about how the teams that have been chosen are more or less attacking or defensive. On board Orange II, they will certainly be going on the attack during this crossing. Bruno Peyron has indeed chosen a crew most of whom are top level helmsman in order to give priority to sheer speed, power and fine trajectories. «We’ve managed to get together a group, which is fairly efficient. I wanted to base it more on performance than on a long haul team, so I have decided to choose more helmsman than riggers. We’ll have five top helmsman on board, some Tornado Olympic experts like Yann Guichard in particular, but also Pascal Bidégorry (the skipper of the Banque Populaire trimaran), Bernard Stamm and Jean-Baptiste La Vaillant. Clément Surtel, who prepared the boat and was a member of the crew during her last attempt in 2004 will be replacing Pierre Pennec, who is unavailable. Of course, we shall miss some of the talented yachtsmen, who were on board for the Jules Verne Trophy (Lionel Lemonchois, Yann Eliès, Sébastien Audigane,…), but they will get their chance to show what they can do on board at some other time.»

12 men chasing after a record

In the end Bruno Peyron has decided to set out with 12 on board in order to cope with additional manoeuvres arising from any complications in the weather. The line-up is thus as follows: Bruno Peyron, skipper; Roger Nilson, navigator; Bernard Stamm, watch leader, helmsman; Ronan Le Goff, bowman; Jacques Caraes, trimmer, cameraman; Florent Chastel, bowman, rigging; Jean-Baptiste Epron, trimmer, photographer; Pascal Bidegorry, watch leader and helmsman; Yann Guichard, helmsman; Ludovic Aglaor, watch leader, helmsman; Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, runner; Clément Surtel, team member.

Good weather in the North Atlantic?

Bruno Peyron: "The weather has been fairly unsettled, but it is now settling down. In fact, our forecasts from three days ago are in the process of being confirmed. Our final talks with the weather unit this morning are rather encouraging, as far as the conditions we are likely to encounter during the crossing are concerned. 90% of it looks good, with just around 10% of uncertainty concerning the finish."

The North Atlantic: the record has only been smashed seven times in a century

The North Atlantic is today the fastest sailing record in the world. A legendary record, which began with Charlie Barr setting the first reference time with the Atlantic schooner back in 1905, and which has only been improved upon by seven crews in just over a century of history. In terms of pure speed, this record is clearly the fastest in the world. "To beat Fossett’s time, we will need to maintain an average speed of almost 26 knots on the direct route right across the Atlantic. That means that the boat will have to sail continually at more than 30 knots in order to achieve that average for the voyage. We’re lucky enough to have at our disposal what is probably the fastest boat on the water today. Our crew has shown that they know how to sail her very quickly, and we now just require that little bit of luck with the weather to get the balance just right," explained the skipper of Orange II.

History of the North Atlantic record:

The first record on this route was set by Charlie Barr, the captain of the Atlantic schooner. The proud vessel managed to complete the crossing in 1905 in 12 days and 4 hours, a time that was to remain the record for 75 years. In 1980, Eric Tabarly and his foiler Paul Ricard improved on Barr’s performance by two days, crossing the Atlantic at an average speed of 11.93 knots. Following that, the attempts and improvements came at a steady pace. The record would gradually be improved upon by the French expert multihull racers: Marc Pajot, Patrick Morvan, Loïc Caradec, Philippe Poupon and finally Serge Madec... On board Jet Services V (the future Commodore Explorer), he was to set a record (6 days, 13 hours and 3 minutes) in 1990 that was to last 11 years. We had to wait for the right moment and Steve Fossett’s attempt to see the record fall: on 10th October 2001, PlayStation set the historic record of 4 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and 6 seconds. Since then, only Bruno Peyron has made an attempt at the record. Holder of the single-handed Atlantic record on two occasions, the skipper of Orange II has not yet managed to improve on this crewed record. We should add that on his last attempt back in August 2004, he missed out on the record by a whisker (just 31 minutes).

The North Atlantic crewed record:

  • Route: New York / The Lizard (south western tip of Great Britain)
  • Current record: Steve Fossett / giant catamaran PlayStation / 10th October 2001
  • Record time to beat: 4 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and 06 seconds
  • Average speed during the crossing: 25.78 knots

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