Across the Atlantic in 3 Days!

An incredible high-speed match race across the Atlantic between two maxi-trimarans has seen sailing records smashed again and again, with the boats finishing only minutes apart after nearly 3,000 miles of racing.

Last week, the two French trimarans Banque Populaire V and Groupama 3 left New York within two hours of each other. They were out to break Groupama’s west-east record of 4 days, 3 hours, 54 minutes and 29 seconds for the 2,926 miles between Ambrose Light, off New York, and Lizard Point, at the southwestern tip of England.

At 131 feet overall versus Groupama 3’s 103 feet, Banque Populaire V was able to take slightly better advantage of a fast-moving low pressure system that both boats rode across the Atlantic. Skipper Pascal Bidegorry and his 11 crew chased Franck Cammas and Groupama 3 out of New York in strong westerlies that had both boats skimming along at over 30 knots.

Groupama 3 quickly set a new 24-hour distance record of 841 miles, nearly 50 miles more than their own previous record. The next day, Bidegorry’s crew posted an 880-mile run, and followed that up with a scorching final day’s tally of 907.9 miles, an average of 37 knots. Both boats consistently posted speeds in the 40 to 45 knot range, with Banque Populaire topping out at over 47 knots.

Banque Populaire’s elapsed time of 3 days, 15 hours, 25 minutes, 48 seconds knocked over 12 hours off the record Cammas and Groupama 3 set in 2008. Finishing just 12 minutes behind the bigger boat, Cammas cut 9 hours off his 2008 time. American Stan Honey was navigator on Groupama.

Now the two boats are preparing for an attempt on the Jules Verne trophy, for the fastest non-stop time around the world, this winter.

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