Olivier de Kersauson and crew set off on his Jules Verne attempt this morning

Olivier de Kersauson and crew set off on his Jules Verne attempt aboard The Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Electric trimaran this morning. The team, who’ve been on stand by for over a month, crossed the start line between Ushant and the Lizard Point at 0300 but they will need to cross the line again by 1136 on 16 March 3003 if they are to beat the 64 days, 8 hours, 37 minutes record set by Bruno Peyron on Orange.

The giant Brest-based trimaran crossed the line at over 25 knots running before a north-north-easterly blowing at between 20 and 25 knots. The WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council) officials started their stopwatches from the Créac’h lighthouse, specially opened for the occasion by the French Navy. Geronimo left Brest at a few minutes after midnight to be at the start line by 4 o’clock this morning (French time) and catch the tide as it turned. The crew was seen off from the quayside by quite a crowd, including François Cuillandre, the Mayor of Brest and an ardent supporter of Geronimo.

The forecast wind strength of between 20 and 27 knots for the early hours of this morning seems to have been correct. “All the data we’ve collected and studied over the past few months has created a picture of very changeable conditions, capable of developing in a number of ways.

“The framework of the current weather system seems reasonably stable. But given our experience in recent months, we mustn’t get too excited. All we can be certain of is that there is a weather window and that the trade winds are blowing between the Canaries and Cape Verde. It seems to make sense at the moment”, explains the skipper. The new mainsail, which was tested yesterday to check its cut and stresses, met with the full approval of the crew. “The sail has a pretty good cut – it’s flatter than the previous one, which is what we wanted”.

“We’re very happy to get underway, because we’ve been waiting for a long time… Given that we’re absolutely ready for this and the weather windows seem likely to stay open until March, we’re not under any pressure. We can give it a try and even come back if we need to”, concludes Olivier de Kersauson.

Geronimo’s course for the Equator will be more westerly than usual, to avoid the oil slicks released by the tanker Prestige.