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Safran on final thousand miles of North Atlantic record attempt

by Safran Sailing Team on 3 Jul 2013
Safran, Skipper Marc Guillemot Francois Van Malleghem http://www.pixsail.com/
Having begun his attempt to grab the prestigious North Atlantic record four and a half days ago, Marc Guillemot is set to begin the final thousand miles he needs to sail to get to The Lizard. Safran is currently 95 miles ahead of the record pace set by Alex Thomson. The goal is to finish before 2027hrs UTC (2237hrs CET) on Saturday evening.

'The seas are quite heavy and the wind has become variable. The proof can be seen now, as Safran is sailing at 20 knots as I speak to you, while just a minute ago we were at 16 knots. The visibility has improved slightly. I even managed to catch a glimpse of the horizon. But to make it clear, it’s dull, grey damp and misty…' Marc Guillemot freely admits that this legendary record between New York and The Lizard is very demanding. On the starboard tack in a SW’ly wind blowing at around 25 knots, the pressure is on the boat and the sailor. Right in the middle of the Atlantic, the four gybes carried out yesterday were tough and he has to battle against the tiredness, which is starting to be felt. 'I had a two-hour nap during the night, my second since setting off. I really needed that, as I was exhausted.'

Sailing 400 miles north of Alex Thomson’s route from July 2012, the skipper of Safran explains, 'Yesterday, I carried out two tacks to get back up north: one for four hours in the morning and another for two hours in the evening. Quite simply as there is more pressure further north (stronger winds, editor’s note) and even if the wind angle is not as good up there, I decided I needed to play that card.' Logically, with these two tacks perpendicular to the direct route, Safran has willingly given up (in the short term) a bit of her lead over Alex Thomson’s record pace: Marc Guillemot nevertheless remains around a hundred miles ahead early this Tuesday afternoon.

Late this afternoon, Marc will begin the final thousand miles to The Lizard. He has just over four days left to hope to finish in less than eight days and 21 hours. On paper, maintaining an average distance of over 250 miles in 24 hours seems to be within the ability of a 60-foot boat, but a word of caution…

'Nothing has yet been won or lost,' warned the skipper of Safran. 'As I think the final stretch is likely to be uncertain and may even be tricky. If we manage to smash the record, it will be down to hours at best. Let’s just say that for the moment, I can see myself finishing some time on Saturday, but I can’t be any more precise than that.'

Safran has to cross the line by 2227hrs on 6th July to see her name in the record books. And if possible too, by winning the duel currently underway in real time with Energa, the boat skippered by the Polish skipper, Zbigniew Gutkowski. The two men are more or less tying in mid-Atlantic. 'This is a difficult record,' commented the skipper of Safran once again, 'You must avoid applying mathematical rules based on the first half of the crossing, which we covered in three days and eight hours. The winds were stronger and above all steadier than they will be from now on.'

One to watch closely...

In short: At 10:00 hrs UTC (1200hrs CET) on Tuesday 2nd July 2013, after 4 days and 11 hours of sailing since setting out from New York, Safran was sailing at 49°11’58 North / 33°56'48 West. Distance covered: 1828 miles. Distance left to sail: 1112 miles. Speed: 17.1 knots. Bearing: due East (90°). 96 miles ahead of Alex Thomson’s record.

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