After an unsuccessful first attempt - due to rough sea conditions - in early November 2001, Steve Fossett and his men set sail this morning to take on the Channel Record Trophy, to cross the English channel from England to France.
Determined to be the first to set a new time reference on this new course, the american skipper crossed the starting line at 8h33 and 54 seconds (local time). PlayStation sails under main and gennaker, in 10 to 15 knots of wind.
November 8, 2001, Fossett and his crew are caught by waves exceeding 5 meters (15 feet) as they leave the Solent, and have to head back to Southampton. But the skipper, being an untamable record chaser, had to take his revenge : recently crowned "king of the Atlantic", he also really wanted to be the first sailor to set a record on the all-new Channel Record Trophy.
A high pressure zone centered on eastern Britain generates moderate easterly to south easterly wind. It is expected to blow between 20 and 25 knots, and to remain constant during the attempt. With this type of wind angle, the swell is almost non-existant in the Channel - the conditions seem ideal, if the wind does not shift to the south. The hardest part will be leaving the Solent, between Cowes and the Needles, a zone where PlayStation will be sailing downwind, thus having to gybe often. The currents are moderate, with an average of 2 knots per hour. The sun should shine on Steve Fossett's course, but the winds are expected to be quite cold. Similar conditions (but in the summertime) had allowed Laurent Bourgnon on the 60' trimaran Primagaz to sail at more than 20 knots of average speed on the course in 1997.
A revamped crew
For a very good reason ! Ben Wright, who had been standing aside Steve Fossett for more than 9 years, just became Technical Director for the French entry in the America's Cup. David Scully, watch captain until now, replaces Ben Wright : he sailed with Fossett on Lakota (former Pierre 1er), and won numerous titles singlehanded. Scully knows he can depend on a reliable crew, certain members already having a good knowledge of the course. Helena Darvelid was in fact on Royal and SunAlliance with Tracy Edwards when the maxi-cat crossed the Channel in 6 hours and 49 minutes, a record.
Dinard Yacht Club
Technical partner of the Channel Record Trophy, the Dinard Yacht Club, take care of the time keeping and the arrival procedure at the Banchenou buoy.
Channel Record Trophy Crew
1. Steve Fossett (USA) skipper
2. David Scully (USA) boat captain
3. Shaun Biddulph (UK) watch captain
4. Gino Morelli (USA) architect & crew
5. Pete Melvin (USA) architect & crew
6. Peter Hogg (NZ) crew
7. Brian Thomson (UK) crew
8. Nick Moloney (AUS) crew
9. Helena Darvelid (SWE) crew
10. Peter Berry (UK) crew
11. Paul Van Dyke (USA) crew
12. Chris Tibbs (UK) crew