Britain's Brian Thompson describes breaking records on the 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire V
Just imagine sailing at 30 knots average.
So many speed sailing records have been broken in the last decade that we’ve become inured to the rising level of boatspeed. But just stop and think about this figure and what it means.
It means sailing everywhere with an apparent wind speed well over Force 7. That’s a near gale. Remember this: ‘Whole trees in motion. Inconvenience felt when walking against wind. Sea heaps up and white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along direction of wind.’
But 30 knots boatspeed is what the mightly 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire V, which recently decimated the Round Britain and Ireland Record in 3 days 3 hours, did on a previous record. Loick Peyron and his crew also tackled the SNSM, the record from Saint-Nazaire to Sainte Marine in southern Finisterre.
They scorched round the 360-mile course in a mere 12 hours. That’s high speed sailing mostly in a gale of their own making. No wonder the latest big multihulls have windscreens.
According to British crewmember Brian Thompson, who told me about it last week, he and the 12 other crew set off on the Round Britain and Ireland Record straight from a subsequent training run.
“We had been out training the previous five says, left Lorient, went to the Fastnet and 500 miles into the Atlantic and were heading back to Brest to fix a batten car problem.”
It was then that the forecast looked ideal for a record bid, with a low pressure centred over Northern Ireland and the Lake District. That made it theoretically possible to sail anticlockwise round the low, downwind all the way. (The record can be made in either direction.) So they set off again from Brest with only two days’ notice.
To give you some idea of the speed of this beast of a machine, Brian told me: “We went at 1917 from The Lizard and by dawn we were off Calais. The next evening, 24 hours after going, we were off Aberdeen.”
Conditions were ideal: 25 knots true and, says Brian, “what was interesting is that we were fast enough to keep the tide with us all the way from The Lizard to Lowestoft, which gave us another 2 knots.
“If you do the record the other way round you get pulses of tide against you so to do the record anticlockwise is definitely the quickest way.”
He says the sailing was “perfect, downwind all the time. We only had one slow patch between St Kilda and the NW of Ireland and we had to go offshore a bit to get wind, so we sailed further.”
The wind increased a little near Shetland, and the crew went from gennaker to staysail. Once or twice they needed a reef, but mostly the record was made in medium airs.
As for the new skipper, Loick Peyron, who took over this winter from Pascal Bidegorry, who was reported to have different ideas for where the Banque Populaire campaign should be going, Brian says he is indeed a legend.
“Everyone says Loick is so cool. He’s totally relaxed, very aware of everything that’s going on and very happy on board.”
This augurs well for the team’s second attempt at the Jules Verne non-stop round the world record this winter. The crew will be on standby from October. On paper, BPV is capable of reducing the 48-day record to 45 days, maybe even less if absolutely everything were to go her way.