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Sails of Change takes on the North Atlantic record

by Spindrift 27 Jul 07:12 PDT
Sails of Change © Pierre Bouras / Spindrift

The maxi trimaran Sails of Change set out from New York at 13:10:08 UTC on Thursday in an attempt to break the trans-Atlantic record.

Yann Guichard and his 11-strong crew arrived in the United States the day before to take advantage of a favourable weather window. In their sights is the record set by Pascal Bidegorry aboard the same boat in August 2009 of 3 days, 15 hours and 25 minutes.

The Sails for Change crew set off for New York on Wednesday to prepare to set off at 1200 UTC on one of the most prestigious records in the sailing world: crossing the Atlantic from west to east. The maxi trimaran had arrived on the US east coast last May in preparation for the attempt.

"It's one of the most incredible records to go after, along with the Jules Verne Trophy and the 24-hour record," said Yann Guichard."To beat it we need to maintain an average speed of around 33 knots throughout the attempt.

"As soon as we landed, we got together on the boat to get ready and cast off. The record period is between July and early November so we wanted to be ready, while keeping an eye of the most favourable weather window."

A well trained and determined crew

In the attempt to break the record Yann will be able to count on a well-trained and cohesive team. The 11 sailors around him are all experienced ocean racers and time-trial challengers, with many of them having been on stand-by over the winter for an attempt at the round-the-world Jules Verne Trophy. All know they will need to be cool-headed, fully focused and determined to take on this incredible challenge.

"There's a great state of mind — everyone decided to come at the last moment," said Yann. "We all want to give it our all and try our luck."

They have an incredible tool at their disposal: the largest ocean-racing trimaran ever designed at 37 metres long and 23 metres wide. Sails of Change holds two Jules Verne Trophies (2012, 2017), the Discovery Route record between Cadiz and San Salvador (2013) and a prestigious win in the Transat Quebec - Saint Malo (2016).

A prestigious 14 year-old record

Sails of Change passed the Ambrose Light, the startling line for the attempt, at 13:10:08 UTC (09:10:08 EST), and is now heading for Lizard Point on Great Britain's southwest coast, a course of 2,880 miles (5,330 km), across the heart of the North Atlantic.

The weather window identified by the Sails of Change team offered the right conditions for the attempt. "The two weather models seem to be aligned," said Yann. "We should set off ahead of a low-pressure system forming on the east coast which will move northwards. "Thoughout the crossing the wind will be from the south, southwest. The whole crossing should be on a starboard tack with only one or two gybes. The conditions will put us well within the record time."

The North Atlantic record has a special place in the history of ocean racing. It has been held by Banque Populaire V — now Sails of Change — since 2009 when Pascal Bidegorry and his crew set a new record of 3 days, 15 hours and 25 minutes.

Yann Guichard knows what is required having been one of the crews who broke the record in 2006, 4 days and 8 hours with Orange II, and again in 2007 on Groupama 3 in a time of 4 days and 3 hours. The skipper is out to take it again aboard Sails of Change.

The crew of Sails of Change:

  • Yann Guichard (skipper)
  • Duncan Spath (helmsman)
  • Benjamin Schwartz (navigator)
  • Xavier Revil (watch leader)
  • Jacques Guichard (watch leader)
  • Thierry Chabagny (helmsman-trimmer)
  • Grégory Gendron (trimmer)
  • Loic Le Mignon (trimmer)
  • Thibault Julien (trimmer)
  • Christopher Pratt (helmsman-trimmer)
  • Clément Giraud (bowman)
  • Pieter Tack (bowman)

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