After 6 hours, 21 minutes and 54 seconds at sea, the american adventurer sets the first reference time on the Channel Record Trophy, international speed base between Cowes (GB) and Dinard (France).
The PlayStation crew beat the former record", held since 1997 by Tracy Edwards, by 27 minutes and 25 seconds.
It was 15 h 55 and 48 seconds (french time / 14h 55 min 48s UT) when the maxi-catamaran PlayStation skippered by Steve Fossett sailed past the Banchenou buoy, marking the finish line of the Channel Record Trophy, in front of Dinard.
The crew just beat Tracy Edwards' record, and everyone is happy on board : " we're really glad, says Fossett, but we had to fight to sail fast enough. The Channel Record Trophy is really demanding, and we needed to find the good winds to keep our speed. At first I was worried because we had to gybe 8 times to get out of the Solent, between the english coast and the Isle of Wight. But now I'm relieved and very happy ".
An average speed of 21,68 knots
Steve and his crew crossed the starting line in front of Cowes this morning at 9 h 33 and 54 seconds (french time / 8h 33min 54s UT), sailing in 20 knots of south easterly winds, under main sail and solent (small gib). Moderate choppy sea, light winter fog and bright sunshine were the conditions in which the crew crossed the finish line, after having covered 138 miles at 21,68 knots of average speed. " The wind was moderate at the start, explains boat captain David Scully, but then we caught good winds and paid attention to the slightest shifts ".
After crossing the line, PlayStation headed directly back to Southampton, its british HQ. But Steve Fossett is soon to be seen again in France, since he will be in Paris on the 12th of December. He is expected at the Maritime Museum, where he will recieve the trophys awarding his recent performance across the Atlantic (Jet Services Trophy, Loïc Caradec Trophy). PlayStation's architects, Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin, will be given the Design Trophy by french architect Gilles Ollier.
A new step !
PlayStation beat Tracy Edwards' performance, but before that, many famous sailors had left their signature on this course. Bruno Peyron did so in 1996 while promoting The Race aboard Explorer : with very light wind conditions, the french skippered crossed the Channel in 12 hours and 1 minute. Swiss skipper Laurent Bourgnon, on 60-footer Primagaz, had covered the distance in 7 hours and 34 minutes in 1997. A year later, Paul Vatine failed twice while trying to do better.
" subject to WSSRC ratification.