Video: Spindrift 2 on standby in Newport for the crewed North Atlantic record

Create a notification for "Catamaran"

Newport, one of the capitals of the sailing world, has welcomed a new giant. After eight days of a highly instructive delivery from La Trinité-sur-Mer (France), the maxi-trimaran, Spindrift 2, arrived in the famous harbour in Rhode Island on Tuesday late afternoon. Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard and the crew are now entering the critical phase of weather watching and waiting for the right window to launch their attempt on the crewed North Atlantic record between New York and Lizard Point (England). With a time to beat of 3 days, 15 hours and 25 minutes (at an average of 32.94 knots), the challenge is a daunting one and needs optimal sailing conditions. If weather permits, the team will also go for the ‘Zenith by Spindrift racing 24-hour record’ with the aim of improving the impressive existing record of 908 miles, a distance equivalent to two Marseille-Carthage (Tunisia) crossings in 24 hours.

Spindrift 2’s elegant black, white and gold 40-metre hulls are attracting plenty or attention. Newport has been part of the history of sailing for a long time, in particular with the America’s Cup but also for oceanic records. Less than 200 miles from New York and Ambrose Light, the beginning of the startline for the record being attempted by Spindrift racing, Rhode Island is well-placed and is a good base with exceptional infrastructure for the technical preparation.

“This start of the standby is a very important for the team; we’ve been anticipating and preparing for this deadline for a long time,” Dona Bertarelli, said. “The North Atlantic record has reached such a level that we are pushing the boundaries of technical and sporting excellence while still dealing with the unpredictability of the weather which can be stressful and frustrating. The crew will return home before the start to remain as relaxed as possible while Yann, Erwan Israël (the navigator) and Richard Silvani (the meteorologist) have a big responsibility to choose the best time to leave. The intensity of these challenges reflects the mindset of the team, our dynamism and expertise.”

A delivery from the South
Before leaving their French base last Monday, the crew decided to take a southerly route to seek out the downwind conditions that they will need for the record attempt and to test the new configuration of the boat, including the modified rig. “We made the right choice in heading south,” Yann Guichard, the skipper said. “We had to almost shave the Canaries before heading west but it was worth it. We were able to collect valuable data in the same angles and strength of wind that we are hoping for (on the record). On the climb to Newport, we also got involved with a very big depression from the north with 35-40 knots of winds, combined with messy five-metre waves. It was ferocious on the boat, I can tell you, but we negotiated the conditions with much more flexibility than before and achieved higher average speeds, which is very encouraging.”

4000-mile flight and a trimaran in perfect condition
Despite a busy sporting season with the D35 circuit, the crewed records and the solo Route du Rhum, the Spindrift racing sailors were able to have their best workout ever on the delivery. “There is nothing better than to go 4,000 miles together, getting to know each other better and learning more about Spindrift 2,” Guichard said. “We were sailing over 30 knots all the time, there was lots of shaking, lots noise, the deck was very windy day and night and by their very nature, there is lots on tension on board these multihulls. But everything went well and we didn’t have any ‘boo boos’ for the crew or the boat. We’ll check the structure, but Spindrift 2 seems to be in perfect condition. If we had to, we could have almost left immediately after arriving.”

A configuration pushed to the max
For the record, the maxi-trimaran will be a tonne lighter than for the delivery. “We are removing the engine but we are also tailoring the boat in anticipation of a crossing on one ‘starboard’ tack (the wind coming from the right),” Guichard, who has already beaten this record twice; in 2006 on board the Bruno Peyron’s catamaran, Orange II, and in 2007 on Franck Cammas’s trimaran, Groupama 3, added. “This involves leaving the foil that won’t be used, plugging the hole and swinging the mast. This is extreme, but the bar (for the record) is so high that it is necessary to optimise everything that we can.”

Icebergs on the road
The routine of weather vigil are in place. Morning and evening, with every update of the forecast files, Guichard, Israël and Silvani study the routing software to see if a crossing of under 3 days 15 hours is possible. As already announced a few days ago, Armel Le Cléac’h is on standby in New York for the same record, but solo. At the moment there is ice drifting unusually far south, the result of a particularly harsh winter. “We are taking this very seriously,” Guichard said. “The solo record can still be bettered on a route a little further south, like the one taken by Francis Joyon, the current holder. But the crewed record, is a game we have to play in the north on the most direct route and that is where the ice is right now. The water is warming up and it is getting more and more suitable every day, but for now, there are no start windows in the next 10 days.”

Share this article