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The editor's focus

Leon’s challenge!

31/07/2012

Leon’s challenge!

1986: the first sailors to try and cross the Atlantic on a sport cat were called Daniel Pradel and Tony Laurent. They took 18 days.

The same year, a certain Laurent Bourgnon, with Frédéric Geraldi, achieved the same feat in 16 days... It was no longer a sporting feat, but a record to be beaten! In 1999, Gérard Navarin and Hans Bouscholte crossed in 15 days. Then Andrea Gancia and Matteo Miceli took the record in 13 days in 2004, before being toppled by Benoît Lequin and Pierre-Yves Moreau in 11 days. Singlehanded, Alessandro di Benedetto was the first to succeed, before being dethroned by Matteo Miceli who brought the record between Las Palmas and Guadeloupe down to 14 days.
In 2012, David Léon wanted to attack the transat singlehanded, on a machine which was...original. The Aster One 18 is in fact equipped with a rig which can be adjusted laterally, which allows a gain in stability and therefore in speed. With 20 to 25 knots of wind, the skipper was sure that he would be able to cover 240 miles a day! The aim was therefore clearly the absolute record...  
But sailors plan and the sea decides!  
"Having left with a 3-metre swell, in weather conditions which were tense but manageable, a cross swell appeared which wasn’t forecast. In an incoherent sea in the middle of the night, a crest formed, a breaker appeared...and hit David. Once the amazement had passed, he took stock. The bags were there – phew! The comfortable cushion had disappeared – ouch! A steering cable had broken, s**t! He recovered, and started sailing again. A bit later, David had to take in a reef. During the manoeuvre, the back of the boat showed a tendency to sink dangerously. David reacted very quickly, and threw everything he could forward... A split; the boat was damaged!  David pumped, emptied; and stabilised the Aster 18, and set off again. 4 hours of sailing and analysis of the situation later, he had to take in the last reef. As he did so, he checked the water level...the boat was clearly taking on more water than was reasonable. It was finished, he had to turn back. An average of 9.8 knots over these first hours! He hadn’t been bluffing! The Aster had sailed very fast, but the Atlantic hadn’t let it pass. But we would like to bet that the attempt has only been postponed.  

 

Find out more on: www.lasolitairedeleon.com

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