Monday, 17 May 2010

Banque Populaire V: The Mediterranean in 14 Hours 20 Minutes and 34 Seconds*!

Banque Populaire streaking across the Med. Image copyright Benoit Stichelbaur/BPCE.

by Virginie Bouchet (in translation)

They have "shrunken" the Mediterranean Sea, crossing the finishing line in Carthage at 20H 17MN 34S French time (18H 13MN 30S GMT)! Less than two years after the Maxi Banque Populaire entered the water, Pascal Bidégorry and his men have just achieved their third record, thanks to a new time of reference on the crossing of the Mediterranean.

The biggest oceanic trimaran in the world has just swallowed the 455 miles of the journey between Marseilles and Carthage in 14 hours 20 minutes and 34 seconds, at an actual average speed of 33.24 knots. While improving the time established by Franck Cammas by 2 hours 47 minutes and 47 seconds in just a year, the twelve sailors of the Maxi trimaran sponsored by Banque Populaire have acquired their third title.

This victory over the time and the elements rewards the exemplary work of the entire team, who have been involved in these record pursuits for several months. Bravo to Pascal and his entire crew!

It was little more than a month ago that the Maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V had changed its harbour to that of La Ciotat. This was for the programme, training in the Mediterranean, but also a series of encounters with the public and the assistants of the Banque Populaire. Facing a window of forecast adequate to attempt the Record of the Mediterranean, Pascal Bidégorry and his men, competitors in spirit, therefore decided to make the attempt.

At dawn on Saturday 15 May at 05 hours 56 minutes and 56 seconds (French time), Pascal Bidégorry and his men commenced their pursuit of the time and, nourishing many hopes, left the ancient semaphore tower of Frioul in Marseille, starting on a crossing of the "Med Express" at 33.24 knots on average.

In extremely intense sailing conditions, mixing both a short and formed sea, the Basque skipper and his team members entered quickly into the object and positioned themselves within the time of the record with average speeds flirting with 33 knots. Very quickly, the miles marched and the possibility of a new record appeared with the passing of the crossing. On board, the twelve sailors entered an unbelievable race against the time. As with the records of the North Atlantic and of the 24H that they hold, the Maxi Banque Populaire V revealed once more an exceptional potential.

It was practically on a single tack that the Maxi hurried to Tunisia. Nothing therefore came to impede a dazzling progression in winds that were never beneath 30 knots. On Saturday while crossing at 20H 17 minutes and 30 seconds the finishing line off Carthage, a third record time fell in the face of the efforts of the Maxi Banque Populaire that established a new crewed record after traversing the distance of 477 miles at an average actual speed of 33.24 knots in 14 hours 20 minutes and 30 seconds.

"It is a great pleasure. As we were able to do for the North Atlantic and 24hour records, we did nothing by half measure. To beat a Mediterranean record by 2 hours 47 minutes and 47 seconds - if someone had told me that before the start, I wouldn't have believed it! It is great to sail on this boat - there is really a super crew on board. We were helped by the conjunction of the Mistral and Tramontane winds associated with a small depression north of Corsica, which enabled us to sail on one tack... It was necessary to reduce a lot of canvas to finish alongside the Tunisian coast and to arrive to rally the point just outside the bay of Tunis. At those speeds, and especially with the sea that there was, after 1H30 of steering, one was tired. One tried to take small siestas of 20 minutes as on the Solitaire du Figaro. Otherwise the crew was nonetheless present for all the manoeuvres, the 12 men, since one needs 12 pairs of arms to manoeuvre this beautiful boat. That was extremely intense. At one point we did 45 knots and just before finishing. As the sea was flatter at the finish, we had more speed. This was not the case on the remainder of the crossing, for the sea in the Mediterranean, as soon as there is wind, becomes very short with a big swell too. We were helped by the length of the Maxi trimaran Banque Populaire. To conclude, this gives real pleasure and it is pure happiness to be surrounded by people so competent. Experiences like that forge a good synergy in the group, and I am delighted", concluded Pascal Bidégorry.

Less than two years after entering the water, the third record for the Maxi Banque Populaire V salutes the great work accomplished by teh team who contributed to the birth and growth of the project.

*awaiting ratification of the time by the WSSRC

Bravo to the team who hold the Mediterranean Record

Pascal Bidégorry
Thierry Chabagny
Florent Chastel
Kévin Escoffier
Emmanuel Le Borgne
Ewen Le Clech
Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant
Ronan Lucas
Pierre-Yves Moreau
Yvan Ravussin
Xavier Revil
Erwan Tabarly
and (on land) Marcel Van Triest

Banque Populaire V