Two of the world’s biggest racing trimarans, Spindrift 2 and IDEC left Ushant over the weekend in separate bids to set a new record for the fastest global circumnavigation to take the Jules Verne trophy.

To win the trophy will mean breaking Loïck Peyron’s blistering record pace of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.

For Spindrift 2 the trip will be a familiar one, at least for the boat, she was the tri that Peyron set the record when she was known as Banque Populaire V.

She was bought by Donna Bertarelli and was re-configured in 2014 by the Spindrift team based in La Trinite, France and led by skipper Yann Guichard who raced Spindrift 2 single handed in the Route du Rhum last year.

At 40m (131ft) she’s a monster but as Guichard demonstrated in the Route du Rhum last year when he raced her single handed across the Atlantic, she’s a versatile boat.

Her direct opponent, IDEC Sport is just under 10m (30ft) shorter yet at 31.50m (105ft) she is still no titch. She’s skippered by Francis Joyon who is no stranger to trips around the world having circumnavigated twice solo, on both occasions breaking the record. Indeed, in 2008 he not only set a solo round the world record that still holds, but beat the fully crewed record time of the day.

IDEC Sport used to be Groupama 3 and took the Jules Verne trophy in 2010 and has won the previous two editions of the Route du Rhum, beating Spindrift on the water.

Clearly Joyon believes that size is not the issue, at least not when you get to 30m.

But, while the boats have similar backgrounds, their skippers have taken two very different approaches to their campaigns.

Aboard Spindrift 2, Guichard has pulled together a team of 14 crew which includes eleven helmsmen. Among the long list of drivers is owner Donna Bertarelli, a highly accomplished multihull sailor in her own right and who has always been a regular member of the crew.

Joyon on the other hand has chosen to go for just six crew, all of them helmsmen.

“The smaller mast is more efficient and offers better performance when the wind is above twenty knots and it enables the boat to be safer and to cut through the water better,” says Joyon. “On top of that, having a smaller crew means the way we work on board will be simplified and we can go for a light weight approach.”

Interestingly, although her crew list is far longer, Spindrift 2’s modifications also included reducing her sail plan over the towering rig that was fitted when she was Banque Populaire V.

Since then Spindrift 2 has been on a significant diet and her displacement reduced from 24 tonnes to what the team estimates as being between 22-23 tonnes. Stripping between 4-9% of weight out of a grand prix machine is a big task, especially given that she was no slouch to start with.

“When we’re attempting records we often end up with a reef in so it makes no sense to carry the extra weight and drag of the top section of the mast,” Donna Bertarelli told me back in 2014 when the main work was being carried out. “We have fitted a new mast that is 6m (20ft) shorter reducing it to 41m (134ft) with a new sail plan that will be 800m2 as opposed to the 1000m2 that we had with the previous rig.”

Chasing the record

The Jules Verne Trophy is a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht with no restrictions on the size of the crew, starting and finishing between the Le Créac’h Lighthouse off the tip of Brittany and the Lizard Point in Cornwall. The minimum distance for the course which takes them around the world via the three Capes, Good Hope, Leeuwin, the Horn, is 21,600 nautical miles.

Francis Joyon’s IDEC Sport started at 02:02:22 GMT on Sunday morning 22 Nov and must return by 15:44:15 GMT on January 6, 2016 to beat the record.

Yann Guichard’s Spindrift 2 started nearly two hours later at 4:01:58 GMT. She needs to return before 17:43:51 GMT on January 6, 2016 to beat the record.

Two days into the trip and both boats have been gradually increasing their average speeds from 25knots to over 30knots as they get wound into the solid NE breeze that will sling shot them down to the African coast where they should then make the equator in around five days’ time. The time they will be chasing to cross the equator to keep pace with Banque Populaire V’s pace is 5d 14h 55m.

Spindrift 2 crew list

Yann Guichard, skipper

Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer

Sébastien Audigane, helmsman-trimmer

Antoine Carraz, helmsman-trimmer

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman-trimmer

Christophe Espagnon, helmsman-bowman

Jacques Guichard, helmsman-trimmer

Erwan Israël, navigator

Loïc Le Mignon, helmsman-trimmer

Sébastien Marsset, équipier d’avant

François Morvan, helmsman-trimmer

Xavier Revil, helmsman-trimmer

Yann Riou, media reporter

Thomas Rouxel, helmsman-bowman

Jean-Yves Bernot, onshore router

Simone Gaeta, substitute

Thomas Le Breton, substitute

Spindrift 2 Data

Designers: VPLP

Previous names: Banque Populaire V

Initial launch: June 2008

Length: 40.00m

Beam: 23.00m

Displacement: 21t

Draught: 5.10 m

Mast height: 41.00m

Upwind sail surface: 531m2

Downwind sail surface: 805m2

Spindrift 2 Home page

Spindrift 2 Jules Verne

Spindrift 2 Log book

IDEC Sport crew list

Francis Joyon (FRA), skipper

Bernard Stamm (SUI), helmsman-trimmer

Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA), helmsman-trimmer

Alex Pella (ESP), helmsman-trimmer

Clément Surtel (FRA), helmsman-trimmer

Boris Herrmann (GER), helmsman-trimmer

Marcel Van Triest (HOLL), router on dry land

Roland Jourdain (FRA), substitute

IDEC Sport Data

Designers: VPLP

Previous names: Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII

Initial launch: June 2006

Length: 31.50 m

Beam: 22.50 m

Displacement: 15.5 t

Draught: 5.70 m

Mast height: 33.50 m

Structure: carbon-nomex

Upwind sail surface: 411 m2

Downwind sail surface: 678 m2

IDEC Sport – Jules Verne page