Having successfully passed through the Canaries yesterday afternoon, following a start from Cadiz early Saturday morning, the mood was upbeat aboard the maxi-catamaran PlayStation as she continued strongly towards the Bahamas.
Skipper Steve Fossett relayed his (typically brief) comments by phone Sunday afternoon:
"We're going well. We've lost some time going south, but we are still looking good. Our focus is on making this a good record attempt, so we're not pressing for super high-mileage days. We're taking a consistent approach - and aiming not to make any mistakes.
The crew are sailing really well as a team. They've got the experience - with only 3 guys (Tim Zimmermann, Simon Fisher, Will Howden) not having sailed with us on previous world-records. Still on a good pace to reach San Salvador for this record."
Watch captain Dave Scully once again expanded upon Sunday's events:
"Today's highlight was sliding by the Canary Islands. The lights of Lanzarote had been visible for most of last night, and by mid-morning we were entering the passage between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria. Fuerteventura means 'strong wind' in Spanish, I am told, and they are not talking about digestive disturbances.
The following breeze gathered meters per second as we passed between the two islands. We had reefed down in anticipation, but found that the blast reacher was too much, and replaced it with the solent. The meter was reading in the high forties, and the implacable Pete Melvin, at the helm, spurned suggestions of further sail reduction, and pushed the knotmeter to it's highest level this trip - at about 35 kts.
The crew took adavntage of the nearby coast to whip out their cell phones and place hurried calls to wives, friends, and...bookies??
Yes, shameful to relate, Pete Hogg's unfortunate heritage compels him to put his money where his mouth is when New Zealand is competing. Your humble correspondent is now 100 Caribbean dollars richer this evening as a result of the black boat failing to win Race two... Meanwhile, as night overtakes us for the second time this trip, we are jibing on shifts in the trades, heading south and west by turns. - David"
Navigator Brian Thompson yesterday commented on the complexities of rounding the Canaries on the route to the America's:
"We have now rounded cans, and on port gybe heading south to avoid the wind shadow of Gran Canaria - the wind reached a steady 44 knots in the funnelling effect of the islands (up from 22knots before)!.
We got to within 2.5 miles of the island before gybing away from its the calms. We are now under one reef and solent and the wind is starting to drop towards 30, so soon we will have the reacher up again.
Strategy for the TransAtlantic awaiting us is simple - to maximise our VMG (Velocity Made Good) downwind, to get south, to gybe on the windshifts - and not to break anything!.
Due to the high pressure covering the great circle route to San Salvador, we will have to sail well south, down to 20N at times, according to the predictions of our weather router Pierre Lasnier.
This will put us almost 500 miles south of the rhumb line. Interestingly Club Med - who did this record in June (2000) when the High is further north - was 100 miles north of the rhumbline at one point..
We are looking at their daily positions and the average speed we need to stay ahead of the record. As we rounded Gran Canaria we had averaged 20.73 since the start, ahead of the 15.2 required.
We had a good run to the Canaries overall, a little too slow at first, but then we gained in the 2nd half when the wind held in the north, allowing us to aim at the island on starboard gybe. The next section will not allow us to be always heading at the mark, so keeping our current average will be difficult.
The key is to stay in the wind, even if we have to sail more miles. - Brian"
Record Attempting Crew
Steve Fossett (USA) Skipper/Watch Captain
Dave Scully (USA) Watch Captain
Pete Melvin (USA) Watch Captain
Brian Thompson (GBR) Navigator
Peter Hogg (NZL) Crew
Mark Featherstone (GBR) Crew
Dave Calvert (USA) Crew
Mikaela Von Koskull (FIN) Crew
Will Howden (GBR) Crew
Tim Zimmermann (USA) Crew
Nick Legatt (ZA) Crew
Simon Fisher (GBR) Crew
Dave Thomson (GBR) Crew
Leaving the historic Spanish port of Cadiz virtually at the stroke of midnight, American skipper Steve Fossett's 125' (38m) maxi-catamaran PlayStation has just embarked on an attempt on the 20-month old 'Christopher Columbus Route' East - West TransAtlantic Record, crossing the start line at Puerto Sherry, Cadiz a scant 40 seconds after the hour.
Steve and his highly experienced international crew of 11 are attempting to break the Cadiz - Canaries - Bahamas course record (officially registered as 3,884.83 nm by the WSSRC - World Sailing Speed Records Council, set in June 2000 at 10d 14h 53m 44s by the 110' maxi-cat Club Med, co-skippered by Grant Dalton (NZ) and Bruno Peyron (FRA).