Leaving Lorient shortly after 21:30 hours local time on Tuesday 24 November, the men of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild launched onto an express delivery trip up to Ushant and the start line for their first Jules Verne Trophy attempt.
Four hours later, the latest addition to the Gitana fleet was awaiting a front to roll through to set sail on the theoretical 21,760 nautical miles that make up this long, looped circuit around the planet.
At 03:26 hours, the Cammas-Caudrelier pairing and their four crew finally set the stopwatch going and quickly left the north-west tip of Brittany in their wake.
With a time to beat of 40 days 23 hours and 30 minutes, held by Francis Joyon and Idec Sport, the sailors in Gitana Team will have to be back offshore of Brest again before 5 January 2021 at 02:55 hours if they are to stand a chance of becoming the 10th crew in history to secure the prestigious round the world sailing record.
They were in a hurry to get going. None of the six men made any secret of their satisfaction at finally casting off and setting sail for the start zone for the Jules Verne Trophy.
On Tuesday evening, in the Gitana Team’s base in Lorient, the pace picked up dramatically at around 19:30 hours for Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier, Morgan Lagravière, Erwan Israël, Yann Riou, and David Boileau. For the six sailors, on the alert for more than two weeks, there was no mistaking it.
This time, everyone knew the time was ripe for a departure which will likely send the speedos spinning around the world in a race against the clock at the highest level of oceanic performance.
Already kitted out in their boots and foul weather gear, their headtorches already on their heads or close to hand, all six of them listened to the last precious weather information from the router Marcel van Triest.
From his HQ, the latter confirmed that they could try to make their own luck on the route around the three capes, provided that they don’t dawdle and quickly snap up the weather window which, though not exceptional, gives them a chance of kicking off their circumnavigation of the planet in style by enabling them to make the equator in 4 days and ten hours.
After really getting a shift on, dockside in Lorient at 21:37 hours, to cheers of encouragement from the team and their nearest and dearest in a joyful atmosphere where the group’s energy was already buzzing aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the two skippers and their men made the start zone offshore of the island of Ushant at good speed.
After a few last manœuvres, they finally set off at 03:26 hours on the dot in 18 knots of NW’ly wind and three-metre waves. Under J3 and full mainsail, they crossed the line, or rather they took off on the hunt for the record… at 40 knots! They set sail around thirty minutes behind Sodebo Ultim 3.