Cheyenne can lay claim to the fastest circumnavigation time, a record set earlier this year when Steve FOSSETT and his crew rocketed around the world in an incredible 58 days and 9 hours. They will, however, be competing against the venerable Olivier de KERAUSON and his seasoned team on board Geronimo, holders of the prestigious Jules Verne Trophy. Earlier this year Geronimo circumnavigated in 63 days and 13 hours to win the coveted trophy. A quick history lesson might be in order to explain the difference. In 1989 a trophy was put up for the first boat to circumnavigate in less than 80 days, hence the Jules Verne reference. It was first claimed in 1994 by Commodore Explorer and has since been awarded to the boat that sets the fastest circumnavigation time, providing, however, that an entry fee is paid to the Jules Verne Trophy Association (JVT Association). When Steve FOSSETT set out earlier this year he had not reached an agreement with the JVT Association over the entry fee of 30,000 Euro s which Fossett considered exorbitant, so he opted instead to simply sail around the world and forget the trophy. It was not meant as a snub, but rather Fossett, a man known to march to his own drum, was unable to see the value for what he considered to be a substantial entry fee. He did, however, smash the existing Jules Verne record and now has a tight lock on the fastest circumnavigation time. The Oryx Quest 2005 will be the first time Cheyenne and Geronimo will go head-to-head in a race around the world, so the stakes are high.
To add to the mix, and certainly the excitement, the winner of the last non-stop race around the world for big multihulls is also competing in the Oryx Quest 2005. Currently undergoing a refit in Qatar, the former Club Med (still to be renamed) can also claim to be the world's fastest sailboat. The boat dominated The Race, which was held in 2001, and was regarded at the time as the fastest of the new generation of maxi-multihulls. At the helm of this entry will be Brian THOMPSON who sailed alongside Dave SCULLY aboard Cheyenne, both as Watch Captains. All three skippers have something to prove, for themselves as well as their boats. They will be racing for the ultimate recognition as the fastest boat on the planet, as well as the million dollar purse that should sweeten even the joy of laying claim to the coveted title.
While the head-to-head grudge match might take place between these three giant multihulls, let's not forget the fourth entry in the race; Tony BULLIMORE's Daedalus. The boat may be the smallest in the race, but it too has undergone an extensive refit and is in tip top condition. In a race where some attrition is likely due to the rough sailing that's expected over the 22,000 mile course, Bullimore may indeed stand a chance of a podium finish. He has the experience and tenacity to seize any opportunity thrown his way.
Both Daedalus and Geronimo are on their way to Qatar. Bullimore is romping across the Med heading for Port Said at the entrance to the Suez Canal, while Geronimo slipped her lines in Brest early yesterday morning and has started to make her way to the Middle East. Cheyenne will soon follow, however due to the lack of time, the yacht will be shipped to Qatar. In order to comply with the race instructions, all boats must reach Doha by the 26 January, 2005 otherwise they will face stiff penalties. With these four entries now confirmed the Oryx Quest 2005 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting sporting events of the new year.
Stay tuned, it's going to be fun.