Friday, March 6, 2009

Attempts: World's largest sailing trimaran tries for the Discovery Route record

One of the great things about the world of sailing trimarans is the incredible diversity you can find - this post comes from the top end of the “Trimaran Cool Richter scale”… the world’s largest sailing trimaran is about to start stretching her legs on the first of several warm-up runs in preparation for an attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy (fastest non-stop crewed lap of the planet).

The boat is Banque Populaire V, the latest in a range of vessels campaigned by Frenchman Pascal Bidégorry. She is a 40m long behemoth, designed on the CAD workstations at VPLP and built by JMV Industrie in Cherbourg (main hull) and CDK Technologies in La Forêt Fouesnant (floats and beams). Her first warm-up run is an attempt at the Discovery route record, which is currently held by Frank Cammas on Groupama 3, at 7 days 10 hours 58 minutes and 53 seconds, an average speed of 21.79 knots.

Banque Populaire V after her launch in Nantes, October 2008 (photo by Pymouss44)

The Discovery Route (la Route de la Découverte) - from the port of Cadiz on Spain’s Atlantic coast to the island of San Salvador island in the Bahamas - is named in honour of the first voyage of discovery made by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Columbus’ fleet of 3 boats took around 30 days for the original voyage.

As I write this Banque Populaire V is on stand-by in Cadiz waiting for a favourable weather window. This Discovery Route attempt will be the first serious sailing for the new boat, however she already reached 40 knots during the overnight positioning journey from her regular base in Lorient to the starting point in Cadiz.

The Banque Populaire website has lots of details as well as a route map which will show the boat’s progress once she sets off. There are also some great videos showing her at speed. The site is all in French, but you can get a reasonable translation using Google Translate.

I’m looking forward to seeing Banque Populaire V show her stuff…