Olivier de Kersauson and team slice 18 hours off west to east Pacific record 12/6/06

Olivier de Kersauson and crew aboard the 100ft trimaran Geronimo have broken the Pacific record from west to east. The Capgemini and Schneider Electric trimaran crossed the Yokohama finish line at 00h43 GMT this morning having taken 13 days 22 hours 38 minutes and 28 seconds to complete 4,482 miles from San Francisco. The eight-man crew have sliced 18 hours and 44 minutes off Bruno Peyron’s previous record.

They set sail with a window of opportunity that Olivier de Kersauson described as acceptable. Once away from the Japanese coast, which is clearly a disastrous area, the Capgemini/Schneider Electric trimaran began a crossing that was quite tough on the nerves.

On 2 June having clocked up 1600 miles out of the 4,450 necessary to cover the complete voyage (by great circle navigation) Olivier de Kersauson could take nothing for granted, as far as the weather all the way to San Francisco was concerned: “The crew are busy carrying out sail changes one after the other, and we’re dragging our feet in a wind that is almost directly aft in misty and thundery weather. The other low-pressure area that is following on behind is finding it difficult to catch us up. It doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough, but it could strengthen the one that we’re currently in, if it wanted to. Geronimo deserves better than these average speeds. We’re on direct course, but that’s about all I can say.”

By 6 June, Geronimo had covered two thirds of the voyage and was making quiet headway, pushed along by the same shallow low-pressure area. However, on 7 June with 1,000 miles left to go to reach the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the weather looked like defying the forecasts, offering one more difficulty for the final stretch. A huge high-pressure area had appeared stretching along the North American coast.

Olivier de Kersauson talked about 400 miles of calm with 150 being particularly tricky. They had to wait for the night of 10 June to get out of it, after 48 hours of average speeds that they could hardly admit to. They finally picked up some wind and could cross the finishing line.

It was with a huge unstoppable laugh that Olivier de Kersauson finished his radio report just before crossing the line, when he was asked what he would do if someone smashed his record. “I think I’d get sick. They can do it if they want. Not me ever again. I can put up with difficult times, but I never want to go through that again.” This is how the skipper of Geronimo summed up his thirteen days at sea.

De Kersauson continued: “You can’t control the conditions. The weather forecasts are given every six hours and in six hours everything can change dramatically in this area. So you have to do what you can with the situation. You can’t plan ahead. That sounds quite nice, getting carried along by things is part of the attraction of our job. However, for our nerves, it’s quite stressful, especially when the weather is all over the place. In thirty years of sailing, I think we have a good idea of what it is like out on the water in many regions of the world. I’d say that here we have an idea, but it’s not exactly clear! Of all our campaigns, this has to be the most inauspicious. Carrying out projects in regions where few yachtsmen have been is a project that came from our partners Capgemini and Schneider Electric, who wanted to put in place global campaigns. It’s interesting and up until now all the records have been just great. But the coast of Japan I can do without. You can understand why the country remained cut off from the rest of the world for so long. The weather is incomprehensible. On board we kept thinking of the heavy three-masters stuck in this torment. It must have been an unbearable puzzle.”

The crew

Olivier de Kersauson
Didier Ragot
Jean Charles Corre
Lucas Zamecnik
Xavier Douin
Antoine Deru
Philippe Laot
Mat Bryant
Christopher Links

Geronimo’s records (2005/2006)
May 2006 Yokohama / Hong Kong 1,650 Miles 4d 17h 47m 23s
April 2006 San Francisco / Yokohama 4,482 Miles 14d 22h 40m 41s
July 2005 Round Australia 6500 Miles 17d 12h 57m 5s
August 2005 Sydney Tahiti (Papeete) 3,298 Miles 13d 8h 25m 56s
November 2005 Transpacific (Los Angeles / Honolulu) 2,215 Miles 4d 19h 31m 37s