After months of preparation, and an exhausting 24 hour unscheduled pitstop in Plymouth, passing the start line came as a great relief to Ellen her crew - "yes, there is real relief onboard, it hasn't been the most ideal way to start but we are really happy to be able to get on with the task of challenging the Jules Verne record. The boat and crew are at 100%, and we're ready to take this big challenge on. Conditions during the night have been quite rough, we've seen 48 knot gusts on the instruments, and the sea is quite violent - particular when we crossed the start line. We're expecting this wind and more during today, but as we head south we should see some moderation."
If the existing record [Bruno Peyron, May 2002, 64 days 8 hours 37 minutes 24 seconds] were to remain the time to beat, then KINGFISHER2 would need to re-cross the Jules Verne line at least 1 second before 1525 and 13 secs on the 4th of April. However, Olivier de Kersauson and his french crew onboard the 34metre trimaran GERONIMO are currently 2 days ahead of the pace set by Peyron, having set off on January 11th - so the pressure is on, and the time to beat may well be significantly lower.
Conditions onboard are pretty tough this morning - they crossed the line in the pitch black of a cold and gale strewn night in the Atlantic Ocean. They will expect to see many days like this in the Southern Ocean, but first they will hope to make good progress towards the warmer climes near the Equator.
The reference time to beat for this leg, Ushant to the Equator, was set just a week ago by GERONIMO at 6 days 11 hours 26 minutes and 21 seconds. The first reference point on their way south will be Cape Finistere, at the north west tip of Spain, some 400 miles away. They will expect to pass this landmark, made more complicated by the wreck and spillage from the Prestige oil tanker, during the night tonight if all goes well.