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20 March 2003, 10:11 am
Geronimo Finishes
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Jules Verne Trophy

At 04:58:11 GMT today (05:58 French time), the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran crossed the finish line off the island of Ushant after 68 days, 1 hour, 58 minutes and 2 seconds at sea.
With their record attempt scuppered by the weak breezes, the were propelled across the finish line by a light northerly breeze and a favourable spring tide, which is unusually high during this Equinoctial period.

These were Olivier de Kersauson's first words after crossing the line:

"Our work is done. We're all very keen to get home, but there is a certain regret about leaving a life we are so passionate about. A round-the-world voyage is completely absorbing and occupies every moment of your time. Nevertheless, we are happy to be reunited with our partners, friends, families and all those we love, and to have completed this Jules Verne Trophy attempt, which was lost once we passed the Azores. We've had a very strange Jules Verne Trophy voyage and I wouldn't wish the conditions we've seen on anyone. It's wearing, it's sad and it creates a dispiriting feeling of powerlessness".

Geronimo arrived at the mouth of Brest harbour at 08:20 GMT (09.20 French time) this morning. The Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric trimaran was welcomed home by support boats and those taking the crew's families out to meet them.

Everyone was straining their eyes to make out familiar faces amongst those on Geronimo's deck - a challenge not helped by the sea fog.

Very slowly, the trimaran emerged from the mist. No one shouted as the discovery was welcomed with a collective silence of pure admiration. The crew of Geronimo continued the good work on deck to bring their boat safely home.

The co-founder of the Jules Verne Trophy, Florence Arthaud (FRA), has been pacing the quaysides in and around Brest for a week now as she waits to welcome home a group of sailors that have made a faultless circumnavigation and comes to terms with the fact that an incredible weather situation has prevented Geronimo from beating a record that her crew seemed to have well within their grasp. But for the "Fiancée of the Atlantic", that's not the point - far from it.

She still admires the potential of the world's largest racing trimaran and pays tribute to her skipper, the most experienced of circumnavigators. She knows he will try again and that perhaps their tracks will cross in the Southern Ocean when she makes her planned single-handed attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy next year.

"Olivier de Kersauson and his crew have completed a magnificent round-the-world voyage and have demonstrated an exceptional ability to manage their technical and human resources. He has also shown in the clearest possible way that Geronimo was the right choice of boat for this type of challenge. He has had this boat in his head for several years and has seen it grow and mature.
And how wonderful it will be to see him come home in such great shape! His real record is this incredible race home through the Atlantic: he's done it in the worst possible conditions and still the boat is making headway. I'm so impressed…

Still, I mustn't dramatise it too much! I've come to Ushant to wait for Geronimo, and I've never seen such beautiful weather here. There's not an atom of cloud in the sky! I'll always remember this beautiful picture: we should never forget moments like this. Why be pessimistic when such a fantastic achievement is just about to reach its conclusion? The adventure of the sea will always be a challenge. If we knew how things would turn out in advance, sailors might as well pack up and go home.

They haven't broken the record. So what? As far as I'm concerned, they were lucky to have had such a great round-the-world experience. What a superb adventure! It's what sailing is all about. One day the sea is generous, the next it's more temperamental. This isn't the first time something like this has happened, and it won't be the last. I say this to the crew of Geronimo: I envy you because you've had 2 fabulous months at sea."
Geronimo Media/ISAF Secretariat
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