After her rapid transatlantic crossing during which she broke the world 24-hour record (706.2 miles), Peyron's Orange II maxi-catamaran made her way into port in the Old Harbour in Marseilles for the first time yesterday afternoon.
Her skipper Bruno PEYRON announced that the crew of Orange II were already on standby for an attempt at the Mediterranean crossing record between Marseilles and Carthage (Tunisia).
There was fine weather and the seas were flat calm for this wonderful summer's day, when the Giant Orange II, after a short showcase between the islands of Frioul and the mainland, made her way majestically into the waters of the Old Harbour. When she reached the quayside, the senator and mayor of Marseilles, Monsieur Jean-Claude Gaudin congratulated Orange II's crew on their performance and on the first record they had set. "Your success is due to your bravery and perseverance, we are proud that you are showing the colours of our metropolitan area Marseilles Provence Métropole."
Peyron talked again about his 24-hour record and more generally about his rapid transatlantic crossing. "There's never been a smaller time difference between two racers attempting the Atlantic record. Orange II returned with this world 24-hour record and became the first sailing boat in history to go beyond the hurdle of 700 miles. We pushed the boat hard all the way and her reliability astounded us. That is very promising for the next stage of our programme, starting with an attempt at the Mediterranean record. We think there will be a first opportunity in the weather this weekend, but the forecasts haven't yet been confirmed. We are ready to set off as soon as the weather allows."
The Mediterranean record
An historical sea journey, Marseilles - Carthage was the route taken by many ships when trading between Mediterranean countries. But it was only 25 years ago that a reference time was recorded! François Boucher, aboard the catamaran Elf Aquitaine (in which Marc Pajot won the second edition of the Rum Race) rechristened Saab Turbo, made the crossing in a little more than 26 hours. Serge Madec, skipper of the fabulous Jet Services V (which was to become Explorer and holder of the Atlantic record at that time) did better two years later, before he in turn was beaten by Laurent Bourgnon, aboard his trimaran RMO (the future Primagaz). But although he was to win the Rum Race twice, the spotlight for the Marseilles - Carthage was to stay on him only for a few days... Florence Arthaud, who had in turn just won the famous Atlantic race going to Pointe à Pitre, took off for Carthage aboard the trimaran Pierre 1er. She only beat Bourgnon's record by 45 seconds (22h 9mn 56s at an average speed of 20.66 knots), but was to keep the victory honours for this race for 11 years.
Since then, PlayStation, skippered by the American Steve FOSSETT, added this record to her list of successes on 24th May 2002, improving on the time by a little under four hours. The record to beat is currently 18 hours 46 minutes 48 seconds (at an average speed of 24.38 knots).