22 November 2015

00:45 GMT

The trimaran Spindrift 2 left Brest at 23.35 (CET) and is making her way to Ushant, the starting line of the Trophée Jules Verne around-the-world record, which she will be crossing tonight.

In the dark of the night, Spindrift 2’s crew cast off at 23.35 (CET) on Saturday. The sailors were surrounded by family and friends and were given a warm send-off by the people of Brest. Skipper Yann Guichard and his crew are now on their way towards the island of Ushant, where a few hours from now they will cross the start line near Créac’h lighthouse. At the top of the lighthouse, the WSSRC president will start the clock and mark the official start of the team’s attempt at the around-the-world record.

Spindrift 2’s sailors will pit themselves against the tough time set by Loïck Peyron and his crew (45d, 13h, 42m, 53s) aboard the same trimaran, then named Banque Populaire V. They set out on November 22nd, 2011 at 9.31 CET and made it back to Ushant on January 6th, 2012 at 23.14 CET, knocking 2 days and 18 hours off the previous record held by Franck Cammas. Spindrift 2 will cross the start line after midnight, so it will also be November 22nd, quite a coincidence which will ring a bell in the minds of Thierry Duprey du Vorsent and Xavier Revil, both of whom were part of the team on board four years ago.

The crew is currently between the narrows of Brest and the island of Ushant. As expected, the wind has calmed down but the seas remain heavy. The trimaran will proceed with caution and target the best possible angle at which to attack the start line, at the foot of the famous lighthouse.

Yann Guichard, skipper de Spindrift 2: “When you’re young, you dream of adventure and read about circumnavigations. The Trophée Jules Verne is one of the finest and most difficult records. The team is ready and prepared. The boat is ready and we all want just one thing, to set off and attempt this tough record. I relish the human aspects of the challenge with the teamwork and team spirit necessary to beat the clock. It’s a tough time to beat. Given the situation, we’ll be in the thick of it from the word go, as the conditions at the start are going to be tough. Cross seas in the Bay of Biscay mean that we’ll have to get into the swing of it straight away, but we still expect to reach the equator in 5 days, which is very promising. I’ve never sailed round the world before, which is why I’m here: to see new horizons, see albatrosses and tackle the Southern Ocean.”

Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer and only woman aboard Spindrift 2: “We’ve been preparing for this for the past three years but, in the end we’ll be taking each day as it comes, each watch as it comes. That’s how we’ll keep going and it’s the beauty of this adventure. Crossing the starting line will set us free and the tension will drop once we’re in action. We’re already starting to enter into our bubble. We’re concentrating, and are waiting for the moment to leave. We don’t really realise yet what lies ahead: a circumnavigation, three oceans, three capes and above all, an incredible human adventure.”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman-trimmer on Spindrift 2 and record holder since 2012 with the Banque Populaire V crew: “It’s not the same as when I came to the start line four years ago, as I know what to expect a bit more this time. This time it’s more of a sporting challenge, rather than a voyage of discovery. Going back will also give me the opportunity to rediscover some of the wonderful experiences I had last time. It will be a lively descent of the Bay of Biscay, but that will soon be behind us, and we should be able to zip along in the trade winds.”

Spindrift 2 helmsman and bowman Christophe Espagnon, who is doing his first circumnavigation: “We’ve been preparing for a long time and it’s good to feel ready. I really want to get going, because hanging around isn’t much fun. I’m happy to be setting off. It won’t be easy at first, but that goes with the job. The weather window seems to be wide open and there is some breeze,” he says, with a smile.

Erwan Israël, Spindrift 2’s on-board navigator: “We’ve been working towards this for so long. The stand-by period is always quite special. We’ve seen this weather window opening for quite some time and I’m relieved it opened. Obviously I’m a little stressed, but I’m happy, because that’s why we do this sport. You always wonder whether there might have been a better time to set off, but I think we won’t regret this one. We’re happy with our choice. I think we’ll have some wonderful experiences with the team, which is very strong. I can’t wait!”