Orange II and Bruno PEYRON's crew have just set a new round the world record - subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) - of 50 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes and 4 seconds, achieving an average speed of 22.2 knots. This puts them ahead of Cheyenne skippered by Steve FOSSETT (USA), the previous outright record holder, by 7 days, 17 hours 12 minutes and 41 seconds and also ahead of Geronimo and Olivier DE KERSAUSON (FRA), the previous Jules Verne Trophy holder, by 12 days, 21 hours 39 minutes and 42 seconds.
By crossing the finishing line off the Island of Ushant in the dark of night under clear skies at 0223 GMT this morning, PEYRON and his 13-man crew have just achieved a remarkable performance. They have smashed the records set last year by the American FOSSETT and the French yachtsman DE KERSAUSON. No one on board would have dared to imagine when they set out at 1003 on Monday 24 January that they would achieve such a record. The Orange II maxi-catamaran, launched on Monday 22 December 2003, once again stakes her claim that she is the fastest ocean racing yacht in the world.
Having already smashed the 24 hour sailing record (706.20 miles) and the Mediterranean record (Marseilles/Carthage) last summer, she has just added this supreme challenge to her list of successes. This catamaran skippered masterfully by PEYRON, who built up a top level crew around him, has a fine future ahead of her, having shown she can swallow up the oceans.
However, this morning, they were not talking about the future, but simply celebrating their achievement before heading into Brest docks to moor up at the Quai Malbert, where Orange II is expected later this morning at around 0930. As she crossed the finishing line, the south south westerly wind was blowing at 25/27 knots. The maxi-catamaran crossed it at 28 knots just 0.5 miles from the coast. 'We tried to get it just right, as we have done throughout the journey,' PEYRON said with some real emotion in his voice.
PEYRON, during the radio report just after crossing the finishing line: 'It's more emotion than joy. It corresponds to the long hard slog. So there's no explosion. It's intense, violent, just like this round the world voyage. I really love this night, and we're going to try to make the most of it. Everyone is out on deck, and I don't think we'll be sleeping much before we get back on dry land, even if we haven't really made any plans. This is a genuine record, which is beyond dispute. The boat is certainly a classy creation and was handled by a superb crew. We'll have plenty of time to talk about it again.'
DE KERSAUSON, the chairman and former holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, congratulated PEYRON and his crew on their fabulous performance around the world. 'The hurdle of fifty days is now within reach, showing the huge amount of progress that our sport makes each year. No other racing sport can claim to have made this progress, as each new generation of boat pushes back the limits still further. The Jules Verne Trophy remains the outright reference for human and technological commitment, and Bruno PEYRON has just added a new chapter, his third, to its history.'
The best day: 684 miles, 6 February, going down the South Atlantic.
The worst day: 166 miles, on 9 March, off Cape Verde.
Number of days above 600 miles: 12
Maximum lead over Cheyenne's time: 10 days, on 3 March
Three new intermediary records in the process of being certified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) 2005/2008: best time from the Equator to the Equator and the fastest crossings of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.