Fortunately these days sailors no longer view it as bad luck to change the name of a boat. The Gilles OLLIER designed catamaran has had an illustrious history, along with numerous name changes. It was launched in 2000 as Club Med and went on to win The Race in a time of 62 days and 6 hours. Tracy EDWARDS purchased the yacht in 2002 with an eye to setting a new Jules Verne record. Like her previous boat, which she raced so successfully in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race, she named her new boat Maiden II. Sponsorship for the record attempt proved to be elusive and Edwards chose instead to go after some shorter, less expensive records.
In June 2002, with Brian THOMPSON as co-skipper, the yacht set a new 24-hour speed record sailing an amazing 694.78 nautical miles at an average speed of 28.95 knots. The record stood until August 2004 when French sailor Bruno PEYRON and his crew aboard the larger Orange II became the first team to crack the 700 mile barrier. They sailed an astounding 706.2 nautical miles averaging 29.42 knots for the 24 hour period. Maiden II also set some less well known records including the Cowes (England) to Dinard (France) record (5 hours, 23 minutes, 38 seconds averaging 35.6 knots) and the around Britain and Ireland record (4 days, 17 hours, 4 minutes, 23 seconds averaging 15.81 knots). They also established a new record time between Antigua in the Caribbean and Newport, Rhode Island on the east coast of the United States. (3 days, 22 hours, 31 minutes, 58 seconds averaging 16.5 knots).
Now, with Brian THOMPSON and one of the most experienced and impressive crews ever assembled, it remains to be seen if they can establish some new records. The boat has undergone a complete refit (in record time) and despite the reams of rigging, unopened bags of sails and bits still being bolted to the deck, it's looking more and more ready for Saturday's start. If the mood of the skipper is anything to gauge by, Thompson seems relaxed and unruffled. Doha 2006 will be in race ready form facing the start gun at 14:00 local time Saturday for another bone breaking blast around the planet.