Co-skippers Adrienne Cahalan and Helena Darvelid talk to Elaine Bunting from mid-Atlantic about progress on Maiden II

“It’s touch and go. We’re sitting in the Trades now but we’ve really toughed it out in the last few days,” Adrienne Cahalan, co-skipper and navigator of Maiden II told us in an interview this afternoon. The Maiden crew, eight women and eight men, are trying to beat the Route of Discovery record from Cadiz to San Salvador in the Bahamas, one of a plethora of speed sailing routes which is part of a packed and ambitious programme for Tracy Edwards’s team.

After running short of wind two days ago and falling behind, the crew have been trying hard to claw back the deficit. “We’re about six hours behind. We’ve still got three days to go and we’re working on differences in speed at the moment,” says Cahalan.

The transatlantic is part training for the crew and part delivery to Antigua Sailing Week, where Tracy Edwards returns to the crew to do some profile-raising. At the start, conditions were good enough to give a record a go. However, this is still, first and foremost, a chance ot work out how to wind up the 110ft catamaran, as the crew had only two days of sailing and a 45-knot delivery from Marseille to Vilamoura before setting off.

“It is quite different to ENZA/Royal & SunAlliance,” says Cahalan of the maxi catamaran in which she and the other women on board went over halfway round the world before being dismasted. “The set up is a bit different but the basic instinctive skills we’ve all got. We’ve got people on board that have sailed Club Med, PlayStation and Team Adventure. We’re sailing fast and we’re sailing the right angles.”

Helena Darvelid, also co-skipper, emphasises the same point: “It is a little bit of a learning curve, but in terms of experience we’ve got vast amounts of it, so we’re sort of just going on.”

Talking about their broken daggerboard, she says. “We hit something coming up to Vilamoura – I think it was a piece of wood – and the daggerboard casing broke. We did a quick repair and they are reversible, so we put it on the starboard side as well. We can’t lift it or put it down, but that’s not really affecting us.”

Tracy Edwards is not on board the boat and there have been questions as to whether she will skipper the boat on major races and records at all. Should we read anything into that? “She’s very busy doing the negotiating [with a potential sponsor] and can’t afford the time to leave,” says Darvelid. “People want to see her in person and she’s more valuable to us where she is at moment.” Darvelid added that she and Adrienne Cahalan will continue to co-skipper the boat “for the moment”.

She also told us that the watch system of three watches of five has been working well and that the sailing, now they are back in the tradewinds, is fantastic. “We’re making the time up. At the moment VMG is good and the wind’s just picked up. It’s really good. If I look out the window I can see clear blue water and we’re going along at 22-25 knots. It’s an awesome sight.”