The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran started on her long quest to win the Jules Verne Trophy at 23:17:40 GMT (00:17 French time) on 25 February 2004.
Having left Brest harbour at 18:00, Geronimo crossed the start line last night, powered by 20 knots of north-northeasterly wind.
To beat the record of 64 days, 8 hours, 37 minutes and 24 seconds set in 2002 by Bruno PEYRON, Olivier DE KERSAUSON and his 10-man crew must re-cross the line by 07:54:04 GMT on 30 April 2004.
The weather forecast shows a northerly airflow for the next 48 hours, which looks promising for a swift crossing of the Bay of Biscay. The team's aim is to pass Gibraltar before Saturday in order to hook up with the northern edge of the trade winds as quickly as possible.
The official timekeepers of the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council), who were there to mark the departure of Geronimo, will probably not have time to get back to the mainland before their services are required again, because the 15-man crew of the giant catamaran Orange 2 left their berth in Lorient at 22:30 last night en-route to the start line.
On board Geronimo, her crew have sailed around the world in multihulls 18 times between them and seven of the eleven members were also part of last year's memorable Jules Verne Trophy attempt. All have a great deal of experience of sailing together and with Geronimo.
Skipper : Olivier DE KERSAUSON.
Watch Captains : Yves POUILLAUDE et Didier RAGOT
Crew members : Pierre CORRIVEAUD, Franck FEREY, Pascal BLOUIN, Xavier DOUIN, Antoine DERU, Armand COURSAUDON, Philippe LAOT, et Xavier BRIAULT.
After Geronimo crossed the Jules Verne Trophy start line, skipper Olivier found time to answer a few questions:
What were conditions like for this start?
"We've had reasonable conditions. The wind is variable in strength and direction, between 16 and 25 knots, and moving around between north and 30°. So conditions are very varied, but by no means bad. It's a bit of a battle, but despite a fairly big sea on the line, the start went pretty well. We crossed the line under gennaker and main in gusty and unstable wind conditions. Everyone's working really well; there were a few tense moments on the line, because in the big sea we had, we couldn't prepare the gennaker on the foredeck, so we had to route further east and come back downwind, breaking out and hoisting the gennaker all in one go; we came up to the line very quickly, because we didn't want to lose any time, but it all went perfectly. We were very happy to be across that line."
What's your strategy now?
"Our strategy is to route straight to Cape Finisterre and follow the Spanish coast to pass between the forecast north-northwesterlies and northeasterlies; we expect to achieve that between the southern side of Cape St. Vincent and a point just north of the Canaries."
Was it right to get back to sea so quickly?
"It's always very tiring to be waiting ashore, because everyone descends on you with their own problems, when all you want to concentrate on is the boat's problems!"
Are you happy with conditions?
"Everything seems fine, but we're still having to put up with these very irregular winds. In fact, I've rarely seen such conditions, where the wind wanders around so much and so widely. Variable from 16 to 26 knots, it's pretty unusual. Clearly, the wind isn't properly sustained, but it's not too bad. In fact, it's OK and for the moment, we're getting the best possible out of these conditions."
How do you expect conditions to develop over the next 24 hours?
"I think we'll have to wait and see if the wind really turns; for the time being, it's still hesitant, we have one gust for the north-east and the next from the north. If it really does set in the north, I think we should have good speed as far as Cape Finisterre."