Cadiz – Spindrift 2 – the world’s largest racing trimaran – crossed the start line on the Discovery Route on Wedneday October 30st at 15hrs, 19 ms, 34 seconds GMT this afternoon (16hrs, 19ms, 34 seconds Paris time) on a bid to beat the record between Cadiz – San Salvador in the Bahamas, via the Canaries, set in 2007 by Franck Cammas and the maxi trimaran Groupama 3. Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard and the twelve crew members must cross the finish line in under Thursday, november 7th at 02hrs, 17ms, and 27 seconds to beat the current record of 7 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes and 53 seconds (21.70 knots of average speed). Following four months of preparations, the Spindrift Racing Team enter a new phase in the project that was set out by both Dona and Yann. The Discovery Route is indeed a first for the trimaran in terms of races and a first transatlantic adventure for Dona Bertarelli. The Swiss sailor, surrounded by a high-flying team that combines both youth and experience, should benefit from the good weather window.
A favourable weather window
On standby in Portimao in southern Portugal since October 7th, Spindrift 2 is taking advantage today of the first serious weather window to arrive following a long period of low pressure systems. From the start of the race, the maxi trimaran should get the strong winds from the north that will propel it towards Gran Canaria, which they must leave to starboard. There will be a series of gybes to manage and the still rough sea state from the recent storms to contend with. “The boat is ready, the crew are ready, and the excitement of departure has gradually taken a hold over us“, says Dona Bertarelli.
“A fine weather window presents itself to us following three weeks of intense preparations. 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”, explains Yann; “Although the situation is clearer regarding the finish zone in the Bahamas. With this sustained north wind, 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 car and skill…”
A “tense and tricky” start
From the start Spindrift 2, will face difficult sea conditions, “Nothing we can’t handle” Dona assures, “but rough sea is not favourable for high speeds…” Yann and Dona’s crew should have downwind conditions, a little too direct for the trimaran’s ideal course, for the first thirty hours of racing that will be marked by a series of gybes to reach Gran Canaria.
“We should then be not far off the Mauritania coastline” Dona 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!” Next will follow three fine days of trade winds, during which Spindrift 2 will be able to race at her full potential. “It will be from then, and only from then that we will be more calm”, says Yann Guichard. “Our course will pass through the north in order to get the best wind angle”.
Then follows the highly strategic phase in this race against the clock, with the quest for 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“, says Yann. “This is the most uncertain part of the race, and the most exciting” insists Dona. “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…”
“We are setting off to break the record“
The Discovery Route is the first major ocean challenge for Spindrift 2 and crew of fourteen men and women, who won the Rolex Fastnet Race (in real time). Whilst vigilance and safety remains Yann and Dona’s priority, the desire to start the challenge and conclude these three long weeks of being on standby with a win is felt by each of the 12 crewmembers. “We set out on taking care to keep to the plan we have been setting up for weeks; taking great care on the manoeuvres, look after the hardware and the crew, maintain good on board communications between watches and take all safety precautions.
This is a very long record attempt compared to the North Atlantic (3 days 19 hours), and we will have to be on good form throughout… ” This is a record lived as a collective adventure with a group of carefully chosen individuals whose selection is based on talent and the ability to work as a team seamlessly and at ease at sea.
“Dona and I are proud to set off on this first trip, on this first adventure with the Spindrift racing team.” Highlights Yann. “This is my 11th Atlantic crossing, and everything seems different. The pressure is positive and whilst leading this a crew is no trivial matter, the shared adventure has all the ingredients and fun one feels on great crossings. To win this challenge we have set ourselves would be a great reward for the whole team, both on shore and at sea, who has worked on this project.”
Time to beat: 7 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes, 53 seconds
To beat the current record, Spindrift 2 must cross the finish line in under Thursday, november 7th at 02hrs, 17ms, and 27 seconds
Current record: Groupama 3 (Franck Cammas) in 2007
Distance: 3884 milles (WSSRC)