The 40m maxi-trim Banque Populaire crossed the equator at 23:26:52 UTC last night. In the process she set a new record from Ushant to the Equator of 5 days, 14 hours, 55 minutes and 10 seconds, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
Yesterday skipper Loïck Peyron had worried: "because of the many manoeuvres the active Doldrums has forced us to make and because Franck [Cammas, skipper of Jules Verne Trophy record holderGroupama 3] had left later, when the Doldrums were further south, it may be hard to beat the time made by the crew of Groupama two years ago. We will not have much difference - it will be difficult to beat." In fact two years ago Groupama 3 had reached the Equator in a time of 5 days 19 hours and 7 minutes. This was 1 day 7 hours 49 minutes better than previous record holder Orange 2's reference time, but outside of Groupama 3's own record set in 2009 of 5 days 15 hours and 23 minutes.
This morning Banque Populaire continues to forge south and into the southeasterly trades has had to take a course to the west - in fact slightly further west than Groupama 3 was at this stage of her lap of the planet. However as the trades back into the east, so the monster tri has already begun her slow arc into the south and once past Recife later today we'll start to see some east in her heading.
Her speed is also building and since yesterday afternoon has been back to a relentless 25+ knots. While this is record speed for a VO70, it is cruising speed for the 40m trimaran enabling her to reel out endless 24 hour runs of 600 miles. At this pace her fortunes for the rest of the week are still looking great. On Thursday the south Atlantic high is still forecast to be centred at around 36°S 5°W (ie in the southeast quadrant of the South Atlantic) allowing Banque Populaire to key into the favourable strong northerlies preceeding a front to the southeast of the high. This in turn will allow her to make a fast, seamless transition into the Southern Ocean, while also having sailed many less miles than Groupama 3. Barring disaster except the record to the Cape of Good Hope to fall over next week.
Taken from dailysail.com