Virgin Money, the yacht taking Sir Richard Branson and his crew of 24 across the Atlantic represents the latest in sailing technology.
Launched in April 2008, the maxi-race yacht took line honours in its maiden event, the Newport to Bermuda race in June 2008. Its next challenge sees it travel from New York to The Lizard Point, off south west England, aiming to become the quickest monohull sailing yacht to cross the Atlantic.
Virgin Money is a 99ft maxi-race yacht that has seen the finest nautical brains input on its conception and development. The boats design and manufacture included input from the co-skipper of the trip Mike Sanderson, and Juan Kuoyoumidjian, principal designer at Team Origin, a team that includes Olympic winners including Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson.
The navigation station of the yacht includes a touch panel for all of the boat systems and is surrounded by a whole host of dials and instruments. These include a laptop for the navigation, GPS, radar, a satellite phone, engine exhaust and volt-meter amongst others. On deck dials show the true wind direction, the apparent wind angle, true wind speed and wind angle – both if the boat was stationary, and boat speed through the water.
The 30.6 ton yacht has a maximum speed of 45 knots, and it’s under water apparatus, including an 18 foot keel that cants with a 15 ton bulb at the end, twin dagger boards and rudders should help it to sail swiftly through the ocean.
On board the boat the crew will be split into watch systems, but the reality is that the crew will get very little sleep during their record attempt. The crew will be split into 4 hour watch systems, during which time the ‘watch’ on duty will be responsible for steering the boat (cover helming), navigating and strategising, trimming the sails and having dedicated mast men and bowmen.
Two of the team will always be on watch at the Navigation station, with this duty split between co-Skippers Alex Jackson, Richard Branson, Mike Sanderson and navigator Stan Honey. The job of the navigation team is to monitor performance, weather, and radar and to keep in contact with the shore based met team.
When off duty the team can catch up on sleep in shared ‘hot’ bunking and shared sleeping bags on the high side of the boat.
With the yacht aiming to cross the Atlantic Ocean in less than a week, the yacht, its crew and all of its sails and navigational equipment will be tested to their limits. The Transatlantic Record
In June 2008, the yacht ‘Leopard of London’ crossed the Atlantic in 7 days, 19 hours, 20 minutes and 49 seconds, setting a new record for the fastest monohull ‘with powered winches’ crossing.
Although the record books will hand the power-assisted record to ‘Virgin Money’ if it beats the current record held by Leopard, Branson and his team hope to beat the faster non-power assisted time held by Mari Cha IV.
Currently set at 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds by Mari Cha in 2003, by beating this record, Branson, his team and Virgin Money will be the undisputed kings of the Atlantic waves.
With the skipper of the Mari Cha, Mike Sanderson taking the helm for ‘Virgin Money’, a crew of 24 actively racing the boat and the support of Team Origin helping with the challenge, the race is on to beat the record. http://uk.virginmoney.com About Virgin Money: Virgin Money is Virgin’s financial services arm and was established in 1995.