Two giant-slaying trimarans are lining up to try to smash the 50-day round the world record


Rival camps are tuning up for the Jules Verne Trophy, the all-out, fully crewed round the world record. It is currently held by Bruno Peyron and crew in the maxi catamaran Orange 2 and stands at 50 days 16 hours.

The latest two challengers, Groupama 3 and Banque Populaire V (BPV), could potentially reduce that time by as much as 10%, slashing it to below 45 days in optimal weather conditions.

Fresh from setting a new North Atlantic record this summer and a breathtaking new 24-hour record of 908 miles, Banque Populaire is the first to tee up by announcing their crew and plan in Paris today.

In the other corner is Franck Cammas’s 104ft trimaran Groupama 3, which was 2,000 miles ahead of the record time last year when the forward port beam cracked and the boat capsized and broke up off New Zealand.

Since then the floats have been rebuilt and strengthened and Cammas went on to break the Atlantic record this summer, holding it briefly before it was snatched away by Banque Populaire V.

Although smaller, this boat is light and powerful and showed during her Atlantic record that it is faster when the winds ease below 20 knots, whereas the big BPV will come into its own in being able to sustain high speeds in the windy, surfing conditions of the Southern Ocean.

Both boats are well prepared for the attempt: each has covered around 15,000 miles in the Med and Atlantic this season. The giant BPV has done more testing, trialling and tweaking since her launch last year than any previous Jules Verne contender.

So, if everything goes to plan, the record should fall to one or other this winter. But to smash Orange II’s record, they would need the sort of made-to-measure weather experienced by Bruno Peyron (and, for that matter, solo sailor Francis Joyon), especially in the Atlantic.

The margins are narrowing, while the ratio of successes to failures remains low. Of the 19 Jules Verne attempts since 1993, 14 have failed.

Whatever spin you put on it the statistics coldly state that this venture has a 1 in 4 chance of success.