It was 5.56 am (Paris time) this morning when the Maxi Trimiran Banque Populaire V crossed the Equator, just 5 days 17 hours 44 minutes and 15 seconds since leaving Ushant. The maxi trimaran skippered by Pascal Bidegorry recorded the second fastest time in history on this section of the record attempt (Ushant to Equator).
In doing so they have covered 3575 miles, at an average of 25.9 knots, keeping a slight advantage on the reference time of the Jules Verne. The crew is now recovering after a difficult crossing of the Doldrums and before the next challenging obstacle: The Saint Helena High.
Crossing the Equator Crossing the equator is a not just a geographic area of note, but it also remains a true religion for sailors and the passage of this imaginary line has been celebrated as it should be on board the Maxi Banque Populaire V. The fourteen men have were glad to ease off the pressure they were under through the Doldrums and enjoy the mixture of superstition and tradition.
Three crewmen (Ronan Lucas, Xavier Revil and Pierre-Yves Moreau), who were crossing it for the first time, qualified as rookies for the traditional ‘crossing the line’ ceremony. For this impromptu party, Yvan (Ravussin) made a mixture of olive oil, tea, Tabasco, soya sauce, lemon, nuts, pepper and coffee! 'I asked them to wake me up to celebrate it altogether' explained Xavier. 'Yvan’s preparation was really tasty! I am sure he put everything he could find on board! But it was important to share this moment as we had been fighting hard for the past 24 hours to reach the Equator! And the sailing conditions were perfect to do so, at 28 knots under gennaker: rather exceptional apparently.'
It was then Neptune’s turn to be celebrated. For Brian Thompson, who was crossing it for the thirteenth time, this moment was particularly important : ' I made an offering to Neptune of some of France’s finest saucisson, something I would have enjoyed , but better to propitiate the god of the sea, just in case, and to keep the tradition. This is my 13 crossing now, so it has worked so far!'
The Santa Helena dilemma Getting through the Doldrums was not an easy task for the Maxi Banque Populaire V as the skipper, Pascal Bidegorry, explained: 'It's liberating to get out of there! It was pretty tense yesterday as it is not obvious how to sail in under 2 tiny knots of wind! We should gradually reach better conditions and we are now sailing at 27 knots in 15-17 knots of wind with full mainsail and solent. The wind still oscillates a little, but should stabilize in few hours with a clearer sky.' Such conditions give the crew some time to recover a little, before having to tackle another tricky system.
Indeed, the weather situation is not very clear off the Brazilian coast. With the Saint Helena High blocking the shortest route to the Cape of Good Hope, Banque Populaire V might have to get round this high pressure area spread out from East to West. 'The situation is not very clear for now but we might have to go around the northern side of it, which would imply taking a big detour to reach Good Hope. We are attentively looking at the satellite images received every hour. One certain thing is that we do not have a crystal ball to look into but we definitely won’t let any opportunity go, and make everything we can to increase our lead on the reference time' concluded Pascal.
Banque Populaire V’s crew list Off Watch : Pascal Bidégorry : skipper Juan Vila : navigator
Watch n°1 Yvan Ravussin : Watch leader, in charge of video and composite Brian Thompson : Helmsman / Trimmer Thierry Chabagny : Helmsman / Trimmer Pierre-Yves Moreau : Bowman, in charge of fittings and composite
Watch n°2 Fred Le Peutrec : Watch leader Emmanuel Le Borgne : Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of medics Erwan Tabarly : Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of electonics Ronan Lucas : Bowman, in charge of security
Watch n°3 Jérémie Beyou : Watch leader Kevin Escoffier: Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of video Xavier Revil : Helmsman / Trimmer, in charge of food Florent Chastel : Bowman, in charge of medics and rigging