The 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire is sailing into the records as the fastest transocean vessel ever devised by mankind
History is in the making this evening as the ultimate sailing record, the fastest vessel to sail round the world, is on the verge of being broken.
At around midnight tonight, Loick Peyron and his 13 crew in the 130ft trimaran Banque Populaire are expected to tear across the official finish line of the non-stop round the world route between The Lizard and Ushant and set a new record just over 45 days.
This will not only make the trimaran the fastest yacht in history, but the mightiest and most self-sufficient ocean vessel of any kind, power or sail. Wind power alone has driven Banque Populaire across ocean after ocean more quickly than would be possible even with a nuclear submarine, whose estimated top speeds are around 30-33 knots.
On the back of a Force 6 westerly yesterday, sailing south-west of Ireland, British crewmember Brian Thompson reported a high speed whilst helming of 43.2 knots. For this boat, 30 knots is a target speed to average.
There is, quite simply, nothing that can match the maxi trimaran for speed offshore in every condition and I think it would be right to see it, and the skill of the crew, as the zenith of man’s technical ingenuity at sea.
Although the distance sailed is yet to be revealed by the Spanish navigator Juan Vila, an average round the world attempt for this record, the Jules Verne Trophy, runs to around 28,000 miles. Banque Populaire has had to chase further than any previous contender, though, sailing as far south as 62°S (a latitude, incidentally, that no race I can think of has gone to since the BT Challenge races of the 1990s) and up to 52°N on the route across the North Atlantic.
So by my calculations, since leaving in November, Banque Populaire’s crew has averaged more than 622 miles a day over the whole period and logged an average speed over the course of an astonishing 26 knots.
A fitting thing is that when this boat was first launched four years ago, it was a 45-day record that the designers VPLP and original skipper Pascal Bidegorry had in their sights. It has taken two attempts, after the boat collided with an object in the water and damaged a daggerboard last year, but the job has finally been done.
The new record shatters by almost 3 days the time set by the 103ft trimaran Groupama 3 last year. And it will make a second family achievement for France’s famous Peyron brothers, for Loick Peyron will be breaking the record that his elder brother Bruno held for six years with the maxi catamaran Orange 2.
I’ll write up some updates over the weekend after the boat and crew arrive, plus detail shots and as many interesting snippets as I can muster and I’ll be posting these on my blog.