by Vicky Pounds
In the Jules Verne Trophy, Frenchman Loick Peyron skippering Maxi Banque Populaire V is expected to cross the finish line between 21:00hrs GMT on Friday 6 January and 23:00hrs GMT on Saturday 7 January 2012 with his crew including Brit Brian Thompson.
Brian Thompson - Jules Verne Trophy 2011
The fourteen strong crew now have the round the world non-stop circumnavigation speed record within their grasp, and are on course to smash the existing record by nearly three days. The Banque Populaire V crew hail from a number of nationalities, however, Thompson takes pride in being the only British crew member on board.
The crew are blasting towards the finish line at 33 knots and look set to complete the Jules Verne Trophy ahead of the current record held by Groupama 3, which stands at 48 days seven hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds. The crew aboard Banque Populaire V have already broken four speed records* on this amazing sprint around the globe; one to the equator, one to the cape of Good Hope, one to Cape Leeuwin, and one from equator to equator.
Upon completion, Thompson will also become the first Briton to circumnavigate the globe non-stop for a fourth time, beating existing records held by fellow sailors Dee Caffari MBE and Mike Golding OBE. Hours away from the finish line, Thompson said:
'We are all in great spirits now as we push for the finish near Brest. Our goal was to set a new world record and, if we do, it will be true testament to the hard work of the entire crew over the last 45 days. I am very much looking forward to stepping back on land and we have timed it just right to miss the last of the left over Christmas turkey!'
Guess how far we have to go.. 1000 MILES !
We have just turned over our countdown odometer from 1001 to 999!
So to now break the existing record, we have to average about 10 knots. 2 days ago, near Bermuda, it was 17 knots, and back at the Equator, 6 days ago, it was a 13 knots average required.
For a while there, we were slipping backwards on the record, and it could have turned out badly if the weather did not follow the predictions., as we were a long way from home..Fortunately it did, so now we are relatively secure speed wise, it's down to the great unknowns - equipment breakage and unseen floating objects, that could scupper our dreams now..We are being as prudent as possible, sailing at a good pace, but in control at all times, so we hope that will cover most of the risk of breakage, The other is in the lap of the gods to a large extent..
The speed of this boat is very deceptive, when you are below, or in the cuddy on deck, or even on the helm looking forwards, it all seems relatively tame. But a couple of times today I have been reminded that 35 knots is very, very fast indeed.
Earlier I went to the leeward side, to look at the gennaker trim, and watched the wake firing off the leeward hull. It's unbelievable how fast that looks, and how strongly you get the impression of the boat hurtling through the water..
The second time, I was steering, and Chab was standing by me to take over. We both looked away from the bow for an instant, and BAM! We were hit by a block of water that had been thrown into the air by the bows. That block had hung in the air, motionless, for an instant, and then the beam, 30m back, and our upper bodies drove into it at 35 knots..it was like lying on the floor and a 25kg flour sack being dropped on your chest from a 4m height. Chab thought he had been punched in the head, though fortunately,he did not think it was me!
Normally when a watery wrecking ball like that comes through you crouch right down in a fast, reflexive move, but this time we missed it..However, it was extremely funny at the time, and I was glad to have had a good hold of the helm, to not get knocked off it..
Will send more later.,
Time for 1h 20m sleep..
Time to equator = 5d 14h 55mn 10 seconds
Time to Cape of Good Hope = 11 days 21 hours 48 minutes and 18 seconds
Time to Cape Leeuwin = 17 days 23 hours 57 minutes and 18 seconds
Time from equator to equator = 32 days, 11 hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds