At 08:29:57 GMT (09:29 French time) today, the Cap Gemini/Schneider Electric trimaran crossed the start line in an attempt to break the Cadiz - San Salvador record.
This record course, also known as the Discovery Route, is the same as that taken in 1492 by Christopher Columbus as he set off to discover the New World. The current record of 9 days, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 18 seconds was set in February this year by Steve Fossett and his 38-metre catamaran, Playstation. To beat it, Olivier de Kersauson and his crew must complete the 4,700 miles by 22:15 (GMT) on Thursday 27 November.
Geronimo set off at a cracking 28 knots off the Spanish port earlier this morning. Weather conditions were reasonably good, with a 20-knot onshore north-easterly blowing towards continental Spain. The current weather maps for the course are pretty complex, showing a favourable depression north of Morocco, virtually no Portuguese trade winds and two successive depressions north-east of the West Indies and sitting right over the route. If all goes according to plan, the Azores high will return to be centred over the Azores for the coming weekend. Once she reaches the Canaries, Geronimo will have to choose between a southerly route, with little in the way of trade winds, and a more direct route through all the problems that come with three successive weather systems. The window is therefore reasonably good, with no other forecast for at least a week. The Cap Gemini/Schneider Electric team has therefore decided to take the chance today.
Didier RAGOT, who is back in Brest and recovering gradually from the health problems he suffered on the voyage south to position Geronimo in Cadiz almost two weeks ago, is replaced by Armand Coursaudon, who was a member of last year's crew.
Olivier de Kersauson