Skip to main content

Trans-Atlantic mark changes hands again

Despite rudder damage, Bruno Peyron eclipses PlayStation’s 2001 record by more than nine hours

Despite rudder damage, Bruno Peyron eclipses PlayStation’s 2001 record by more than nine hours

French skipper Bruno Peyron and an 11-person crew aboard the 120-foot maxi catamaran Orange II have set a new trans-Atlantic sailing record, shaving more than nine hours off the previous mark.

Peyron completed the 2,925-nautical-mile passage from Ambrose Light off New York to Lizard Point off England July 7 in a ratified time of 4 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes, 54 seconds. The previous record was set in 2001 by American Steve Fossett and crew aboard the 125-foot catamaran PlayStation.

“We all felt an immense joy after we crossed the finish,” said Peyron in a telephone interview with Soundings from his hometown of La Baule, France. “It was a very intense sprint across the Atlantic and was a lot of work. We also felt some kind of relief, too.”

About two days into the journey Orange II struck a floating object at night off the Newfoundland Banks, damaging a rudder. “We were pushing along at full power and were very much concentrated on our path and the angles of the wind when it happened,” says Peyron, who is 52. “Suddenly the boat hit something hard. There was a loud sound. Maybe it was an iceberg, I’m not sure. The boat began to not behave normally. If we let go of the helm the boat would jibe immediately to port. The helmsman had to hold it at a 70- to 80-degree angle all the time just to keep the boat going straight.”

Helmsman Yann Guichard says that if the rudder hadn’t been damaged they could have logged an even faster time. “The steering was off to the side, and it was no easy matter,” he said in a release. “We were forced to ease off, otherwise we would have finished in under four days.”

In addition to setting the Atlantic mark, Peyron broke the 24-hour speed record, which he had set previously. Averaging nearly 32 knots, the Orange II crew covered 766.8 nautical miles in that time. “When we found out that we had set a new 24-hour record I was very much impressed by our new potential,” Peyron says. “We obviously succeeded. To reach this record was surprising, but once we did we knew we could cross the ocean in less time than the record.”

Peyron holds a number of other speed sailing records and in 1993 became the first person to circumnavigate in less than 80 days, sailing for the Jules Verne Trophy. Now that he’s back on land the Frenchman says he’s looking forward to setting new speed sailing records, but not right away.

“I think it’s time to get some rest,” he says. “I’ll go to England soon to do some [public relations] stuff. After that, a little later this year, I’ll start preparing to beat the single-handed 24-hour speed record. I’m looking forward to that.”