Despite knocking almost 23 hours off the time set by Steve Fossett and Orange, the previous round Britain and Ireland record holders, Olivier de Kersauson was unable to match Maiden II's outstanding speed in their most recent record attempt
Geronimo, the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric trimaran crossed finish line off the Lizard at 12:12:54 yesterday, having completed the Round Britain and Ireland course in 4 days, 22 hours, 5 minutes and 52 seconds.
This performance puts Geronimo almost 23 hours ahead of the times set by Steve Fossett and Orange, but some hours behind Maiden II, also challenging for the record. Maiden II, with a time of 4 days 17 hours 3 minutes and 23 seconds, and with an average speed of 15.8 knots over the 1,787-mile course, now holds the record for the fastest time around Britain and Ireland.
Having set off from the Isle of Wight, Maiden II, skippered by Brian Thompson, covered the same course five hours faster than Geronimo. The fact that the rules governing this event allow crews to choose their own start/finish points means that the two boats will not have encountered precisely the same weather conditions.
Despite the outcome, the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric crew have produced a lot of positive technical feedback as a result of this attempt (new rudder blade and mast), which can be used to attack her next attempt and put her back on track for the Jules Verne Trophy. It also shows Geronimo has everything it takes to pursue and set major records.
A few minutes after crossing the finish line off the Lizard at the end nearly five days at sea, Olivier de Kersauson gave his first thoughts about the dash around Great Britain and Ireland. “I’m very satisfied with what we’ve achieved, given the weather we had. I think that the boat and the crew have performed very well and I’m very happy, despite the fact that the performance of the English boat and crew was better than our own. We were able to improve on Steve Fossett’s time by 23 hours.
“There were plenty of weather tactics with Pierre Lasnier, plenty of thought and several very bold manoeuvres, all of which were really successful. We had very informative weather data, so we were able to anticipate rising winds at certain points on the route.
“We’ve had a fantastic and very interesting sail. Geronimo is working really well and is absolutely brilliant in light winds. Our sailing conditions were better than those experienced by others, like Bruno Peyron, so we’ve been able to set a better time. Maiden II had different weather conditions to ours, given that she left slightly before us on what is a circular route where the weather changes every quarter of an hour.
“They have managed a better time than ours. After the event, there are always different analyses to be made: they set a better time because they were faster, because their weather problems lasted a shorter time than ours, and so on? It’s like two cars crossing Paris on two routes that are similar, but different, and starting five or six hours apart – they’re bound to get stuck at some traffic lights and get a clear run at other times.
“That’s the principle of records. We’ve had a very good experience of this boat that I am lucky enough to skipper and of the crew, which has been fantastic and highly talented all the way and whose manoeuvres and helm watches have been almost perfect.
“In my opinion, Geronimo made the perfect circuit. I’ve absolutely nothing to complain about. Ninety five per cent of the decisions I made paid off. We gained time on every occasion and everything went very well. I did my best with what is an excellent crew and an excellent boat. Maybe if I’d set off with the Englishman, I might have beaten him, but it’s all “ifs”. That’s what records are all about.”