Maxi Banque Populaire V undertakes Jules Verne Trophy

Banque Populaire V crew - Jules Verne Trophy 2011
Maxi Banque Populaire V Jules Verne Trophy attempt.

Loick Peyron and his men have kept a close eye on the weather forecasts over the past few days and have now decided to take advantage of the front that is now stretching between Ireland and Portugal, a departure opportunity that they have awaited for the past month.

By crossing the virtual start line between Ushant and the Lizard Point at 09h31min42s, the Maxi Banque Populaire V is undertaking the Jules Verne Trophy, for the second attempt in her history. 'Light' for the warm-up, weather conditions should quickly gain in intensity in the Bay of Biscay, thus plunging the fourteen sailors directly at the heart of their oceanic subject. The stopwatch is on, along with a great adventure.

It was at 5.03pm, Monday 21st November, a month after mooring at the Port du Chateau in Brest, that Loïck Peyron and his men were finallyable to give in to the urge to take off. In a relaxed atmosphere, illuminated by fourteen smiles, the Maxi Banque Populaire V has cast off with all the usual precautions in order to reach Ushant and to wait for a few hours, before setting off the timing of this famous Jules Verne Trophy. Ronan Lucas, director of Team Banque Populaire and bowman, summarized his satisfaction:

'We have been waiting for this moment for long. We wanted it to happen earlier this year. We cannot wait to be in action rather than behind the computer trying to analyze if it goes or not! It is a relief. '

At 09h31min42s this Tuesday, finding the optimal weather configuration over the Atlantic and in consultation with the strategic cell composed of Ronan Lucas and Juan Vila on board, and Marcel van Triest on shore, Loïck Peyron crossed the imaginary line between the Creac'h lighthouse situated on the Northwest tip of the Brittany island and Lizard Point, on the south west of Britain.

The light conditions to get into the swing of this non-stop round the world won’t last for long and the menu should seriously get tougher for the sailors. Interviewed prior to departure, the Spanish navigator of Team Banque Populaire, detailed the situation announced over the Atlantic in the coming hours:

We have deeply analyzed weather files these days and everything seems to line up for now to reach the Equator and the Cape of Good Hope in good times. We should have standard conditions at Ushant, with about twenty knots, but it will it will quickly rise. Within four / five hours, we should reach thirty knots.

If the weather files are accurate, we should have around forty knots in Cape Finisterre. It's like every departure, we are looking for the wind and inevitably we will have to face waves and swell. It is going to shake. For the longer term, we are looking at the time at the Equator. For the moment it looks like five days and a half, hoping it stays that way, and if the files are confirmed in the coming days. After that, we look at a trend that could lead us to the Cape of Good Hope in thirteen days. '

Tough and wet, this entering should allow Loïck Peyron and his crew to negotiate the descent to the equator at first, then to South Africa, under these more than acceptable conditions. For his first appointment, out of his distinguished career, with the Jules Verne Trophy, the skipper likes the script and its pitfalls:

'The weather conditions are favourable for now. The major trick will be to squeeze between the Azores High and Portugal and Morocco, to get as Western as possible to get a good angle with the low trade winds blowing now. The first matter is therefore the management of a strong wind to start with, followed by a light one after three days racing. Afterwards, it is the unknown and for the best! It's a nice window, but it is never optimal, we must always compromise.

What is interesting is that the time set by Franck Cammas and his crew does not have the best partial times. You can always try to improve all one after the other, which would be a good sign, but we can also be late for a while and catch up later. Banque Populaire V’s potential is greater than any other boat that has ever attempted the Jules Verne Trophy. It was designed for that. It already holds every offshore record on the planet. This is the only one missing! '

Downwind, pushed by North / West stream, Maxi Banque Populaire V will then begin its journey around the world. Now stands a 21 760 miles challenge and a loop by the three Capes - Good Hope, Lizard and Horn. To write their names on the prestigious list of the Jules Verne Trophy and enter the offshore racing’s history, Loïck Peyron and his men will have to stop the WSSRC * timer before Monday, the ninth of January 2012 at 17h15min34. In the meantime, it is now time for sports and adventure and human performance.

*WSSRC: World Sailing Speed Record Council - organization managing sailing records