Solo North Atlantic crossing record - Clock is ticking away for Safran

2013 North Atlantic crossing Regatta - Safran sailing
©Piotr Redlinsky / CAPA Pictures / Safran
The clock is ticking for the French skipper,Marc Guillemot. Aboard the 60-foot monohull Safran set off alone from New York on Thursday, June 27th 2013 to attempt to grab the prestigious solo North Atlantic crossing record from east to west on a monohull.

Safran crossed the line at the foot of Ambrose Light at 23:19 GMT. The record attempt has also become a race, as the Pole, Zbigniew Gutkowski set off at the same time as Marc Guillemot.

The goal is to try to smash the record set by the Brtitish sailor, Alex Thomson in July 2012: 8 days, 21 hours, 8 minutes and 31 seconds. To achieve this, Safran will have to cross the finishing line off The Lizard on the South coast of England by 20hrs 27mn 31s GMT on Saturday, July 6th, 2013. This means maintaining an average speed of more than 13.7 knots over the 2880 miles of the course. It will also involve overcoming a number of hurdles: thick mists off Canada, marine mammals, shipping… Last summer, Alex Thomson managed to improve on Bernard Stamm’s old record time by more than one day. A record he had held for ten years.

Marc Guillemot: 'a goal in itself'
Marc Guillemot is particularly keen to tackle this record: 'It is important for two reasons. Firstly, the delivery trip to New York allowed us to sail across the Atlantic and make technical progress aboard the boat, take measures and check out the work we did during the winter. But the North Atlantic record is a goal in itself, something we really want to aim for to enable me to get over the disappointment of the Vendée Globe. Alex Thomson had a remarkable crossing keeping up an average of 14 knots on the direct route. We have to do even better than that…'

Jean-Yves Bernot explains the weather opportunity
One of the many difficulties with this legendary crossing is finding the right weather opportunity. Marc Guillemot is being helped by his router Jean-Yves Bernot. He tells us more, 'The opportunity looks very good for the start of the attempt. At the start there will be plenty of wind, but not too much: a SSW’ly of around 30 knots. Marc will be following a low-pressure area, which formed to the south of the Great Lakes and will move right across to the longitude of the Azores. Halfway throigh the crossing, he will experience less wind, but it still remains interesting. Ideally, he will be hoping for another low-pressure area to develop behind him. The record takes around 8 days and the forecasts are only reliable for 4-5 days: so for the time being, the conditions for the end of the crossing are not that reliable. There is still some uncertainty and it will be down to good luck, but that is what you expect with these records. It all depends on small details in any case.'

A race as well as a record
Marc Guillemot will not be setting out alone to tackle the solo North Atlantic record for a 60-foot monohull. Another sailor from the last Vendée Globe, the Polish skipper, Zbigniew Gutkowski (nicknamed 'Gutek'), set off at the same time. A race within the record, which means extra motivation for the skipper of Safran.