French skipper Francis JOYON on board his 90-foot trimaran IDEC, who previously held the non-stop solo round the world record that MACARTHUR beat by a day in February this year, left New York yesterday to make an attempt on BOURGNON's record but decided to abandon his attempt earlier this morning as he failed to play catch up to hook into the back of a fast-moving weather system. There is another possible weather window shaping up for him next week. The weather dictates that this record can only really be attempted in the spring/early summer months (BOURGNON set his record in June, right at the end of the weather window available) or the post-summer/autumn months to take advantage of the low pressure systems that sweep across the Atlantic at this time of year. In addition, Thomas COVILLE (FRA), skipper of the 60-foot trimaran SODEBO has also announced his intention to bid for this record.
'We need to have a pretty perfect weather window to have any chance of breaking this very fast record,' says MACARTHUR. 'Last June we were forced south of the route and had to sail more miles than Laurent, in the end too many to break his record. Attempting the transatlantic record is very different to a round the world record and it is hard to compare the two. After failing to break the record by just 75 minutes on the last attempt we are under no illusions as to how big this challenge will be. The timing of departure will be critical, everything will have to go right, the weather, the boat and there will not be room for mistakes. To stand a chance of breaking this record we will have to go flat out and just go for it all the way to the English Channel.'
The west-east solo transatlantic, which starts at Ambrose Light off New York and finishes at the Lizard off the south-west coast of England, is perhaps one of the hardest records to break which is why BOURGNON's record has now stood for over a decade. The passage that is just a shade under 3,000 miles is completely dependent upon hooking into the right weather window to propel B&Q across the North Atlantic. 'It is a very, very tough record to break,' emphasises MACARTHUR, 'and has stood for a long time. After missing out on this record by so little last time we are determined as ever to give it our best shot this time around.'
Just as was the case with the round the world record when B&Q was first launched, come start day for MACARTHUR the bar may well have been raised yet further by JOYON or COVILLE.
MACARTHUR is also planning another record attempt. On Friday 3 June she and her crew will leave Plymouth, Great Britain to establish a new crewed Plymouth to Roscoff record to claim the 'Brittany Ferries 100 Mile Trophy'. The trimaran B&Q will line up on the start line next to Brittany Ferries flagship the Pont Aven off Plymouth to set off at 1330 BST - the same time that the Pont Aven sets sail for Roscoff on the north coast of France. The 'Brittany Ferries 100 Mile Trophy' will be awarded to any sailing vessel that breaks the record established by the B&Q trimaran on Friday 3 June.
Joining MACARTHUR on board B&Q will be top French skipper, Roland JOURDAIN. JOURDAIN and MACARTHUR have been long-term friends and rivals - they both competed in the 2000/2001 Vendée Globe with JOURDAIN finishing one place behind MACARTHUR in third. JOURDAIN took on the Vendée Globe again in 2004 but sadly damaged his keel south of Australia whilst challenging for the lead and was forced to retire.
Brittany Ferries stepped in at this point to assist JOURDAIN in transported his Open 60 Sill et Veolia back to France and in appreciation of this assistance, JOURDAIN has agreed to sail with MACARTHUR in this inauguaral 'Brittany Ferries 100 Mile Trophy' record attempt. 'It will be great to be out on the water with Bilou,' says MACARTHUR. 'I have raced against him many times in the past and I have a great respect for him. I hope he will enjoy sailing on board B&Q as much as I do, I know it will be a big change from the Open 60 design that he is used to but I'm sure he will enjoy taking on this challenge in the same way he does whenever he is out on the water.'