Maxi trimarans Groupama and Banque Populaire are bidding for a sub 50-day round the world record. What are the odds?

Here we go again: the giant-slayers are lining up for another go at breaking the non-stop round the world record.

Franck Cammas’s 104ft trimaran Groupama 3 and the monster 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire V are on the starting blocks for the Jules Verne Trophy.

Groupama 3 set off in October but had to limp into Cape Town after suffering a bulkhead failure in the port float. This is the boat’s second serious structural problem: on Cammas’s first Jules Verne bid last year the forward port beam cracked and the boat capsized and broke up off New Zealand.

Banque Populaire V comes in with a clean slate so far. Skipper Pascal Bidégorry and his team went for a pretty laborious work up and it paid off last summer with a new Atlantic record and a jaw-dropping  24-hour run of 908 miles.

I’ll reiterate what I wrote last time Groupama 3 left: while there’s a very good chance on paper that the record of 50 days will fall, even with two well tested boats and top crews this is historically an odds-against venture.

Of the 20 Jules Verne attempts since 1993, 15 have failed. The statistics coldly state that challengers have a 1 in 4 chance of success.

Which boat will be quicker, though? That’s going to be an interesting one regardless, especially if they set off at similar times.

The favourite has to be the mighty BPV, which will come into its own in being able to sustain high speeds in the windy, surfing conditions of the Southern Ocean.

But don’t discount the smaller Groupama 3 – the nimble trimaran is light and powerful, and showed during the Atlantic record that it’s faster when the winds ease below 20 knots.

Still and all, to smash Orange II’s record either crew will need made-to-measure weather, especially on the way back up the Atlantic.