The names of the winners of the 2009 Ocean Records World Championship are now known. In the crewed category, Pascal Bidégorry is the new champion thanks to his great achievement this summer with the crew of the Banque Populaire V trimaran in the Atlantic. In the single-handed category, after Francis Joyon in 2008, it is now Thomas Coville, who deservedly takes this award after completing a round the world voyage in 59 days.
The Ocean Records World Championship, which brings together all the major historic sailing records – over twenty routes in all – has delivered its verdict for 2009. In the final rankings based on each record being given a coefficient of one to ten according to its length and difficulty, the big winners in 2009 are Pascal Bidégorry in the crewed category and Thomas Coville for the single-handed sailors.
The North Atlantic and 24 hour record smashed
Pascal Bidégorry and his men have won the title of world champions thanks to the records set by the maxi-trimaran Banque Populaire V in the Atlantic. To remind you of their incredible feat, they crossed the ocean averaging 32.94 knots with a time of 3 days, 15 hours, 25 minutes and 48 seconds… They also smashed the 24-hour record and in so doing went through two symbolic barriers: the 800-mile and then the 900-mile barrier … In fact the giant trimaran Banque Populaire V sailed 908 miles in just one day.
Looking at the solo sailors, after Francis Joyon in 2008 and his 57-day round the world record, it is Thomas Coville, who takes the title of 2009 World Champion, thanks to his non-stop single-handed round the world voyage completed in a time of 59 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds, the second best time ever. Thomas Coville did not manage to better Francis Joyon’s record, but achieved a remarkable performance, for which he has quite naturally been rewarded with this title of 2009 World Champion. We can note that this is the second time Thomas Coville has won this title as he was already proclaimed world champion for the first time back in 2006.
The reactions of the champions:
“Receiving this title of World Champion during the first year of sailing this boat is obviously a great pleasure. It is an honour for all those, who sail on the maxi Banque Populaire V… and I hope it won’t be the last! I hope too that there will be more and more of us battling it out in this championship in the coming years. It’s great that such rankings exist. We’ll see about next year, but if we get it thanks to the Jules Verne Trophy, I won’t be complaining!”
“Even if I always put this sort of honour into perspective – my real goal is to make another attempt at the single-handed round the world record next year- it’s really nice to be recognised in this way. The points system means that attempts are honoured. When a pole-vaulter jumps, we always expect him to beat Bubka’s world record and he tends to be forgotten if he doesn’t do that, even if he achieves the best performance of the year… »
Reminder of the winners since the Ocean Records World Championship was set up:
2008 : Lionel Lemonchois
2007 : Franck Cammas
2006 : Bruno Peyron
2005 : Bruno Peyron
2004 : Steve Fossett
2008 : Francis Joyon
2007 : Francis Joyon
2006 : Thomas Coville
2005 : Ellen MacArthur
2004 : Francis Joyon
As we pull up to the Gateway Marina in Brooklyn, New York, in the distance to our right is the New York City skyline. To our left are 3 large masts towering over all the other boats in sight. These three giants are The Maxi-Trimarans Banque Populaire V skippered by Pascal Bidégorry (40m/131.2 ft) and Groupama 3 skippered by Franck Cammas (105ft) and Sodebo solo-skippered by Thomas Coville (105ft). All three are laying in wait for the weather window to set out to break the North Atlantic record. This record is a 2,980 mile run from Ambrose Light (Off the coast of New York) to Lizard Point (South-West tip of England). It is not often in the USA that we get to see such an impressive line up of Multi-hulls on one dock. They looked like thoroughbreds patiently waiting to be called into action.
We were graciously given the complete tour of Banque Populaire V, which is also the largest racing Trimaran in the world, by a member of the shore crew Philibert Chenais. As I sat in the cockpit I got a much better understanding of the workings of the boat. The sheer scale of the size of the boat becomes apparent from the cockpit. It is a long way forward and aft. The mast towers above at 47 meters/154.2ft. At this height it is taller than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The boat is 23.5 meters/77 ft wide. She has been lightened as much as possible and all systems have been checked and rechecked. The freeze dry food is stowed. They have no motor now except the small 27 horse needed to power the electronics and navigation gear and to keep the hydraulic systems, of which there are many, running. This is a beautiful, sleek, shiny, well maintained monster of boat.
Banque Populaire V will carry 7 sails for this record attempt. A Cuben Fiber Main that alone and takes 8 men approximately 9 minutes to raise using the various winches and grinders positioned around the cockpit. This Main will be used on the boat for this record and also in the subsequent Jules Verne Trophy attempt next winter. Three downwind sails. A masthead and a fractional sail and a staysail. All necessary but as few as possible to keep the weight onboard down.
The 47 meters of mast is a hydraulic canting mast designed to be set to any degree necessary to keep the boat’s sail angle verticle as the boat heels. This is so that the limited apparent wind range on the maxi will not affect the sail trim. It sails so fast that the apparent wind range is reduced. The mast cants using large rams in a carbon fiber mounting down deep inside the hull. It has an 80 degree range side to side. The forward stay is attached to another hydraulic system which is used to tighten the luff so the foward sail can be kept flat. The flatter the better with this sail plan.
Images by George Bekris
(click on image to enlarge)
The Harken winches are designed to gear down to help the crew manage the large loads on the sheets. The grinding pedestals and winches have 4 speeds. At the pull of a cord they can gear down quickly. This boat gears down to trim the jib unlike Volvo 70s, which gear up. It can take up to 8 men on the winches to trim in heavy air.
For the record attempt she will have the skipper Pascal Bidégorry and a crew of 11. The fact that this is a short run, 3-4 days for the record, sleep onboard will be more optional. The record now stands at 4 days 3 hours 57 minutes and 53 seconds . Philibert explained that for a record run of this type more crew up top on deck at any given time helps because they can quickly respond to any sail changes needed for optimum speed. Just shaving seconds off shaking out a reef or trimming the sail could mean the difference between breaking the record and not breaking it. These days the records are that tight. Every fraction of a knot means alot. During the Jules Verne Trophy run next winter they will run a more regular sleep schedule with a 5 on 5 off at any given time plus the skipper.
Icebergs and whales have been a concern for the skippers on this North Atlantic run. While Banque Populaire V was crossing the Atlantic on her delivery run to New York they did hit a whale. Luckily the the daggerboard was sacrificial and designed to break off before the boat itself can be damaged. The boat can loose one and be fine as it is designed with three. The late summer attempt should minimize the risk of late season icebergs so that should not be a problem now.
Banque Populaire V will be taken out of the water this fall in France and refitted. After the refit she will be setting out to break the Jules Verne Record in the winter of 2010.