Banque Populaire V

Banque Populaire V

Friday, 6 January 2012

New World Record for Banque Populaire V

Arrival Time: 23h 14 min 35 s - local FR time
Duration: 45 days 13 hours 42 min 53s



Link to a phone call recorded with Brian at 4.55pm GMT

Link to a phone call recorded with Brian at 4.55pm GMT nearing the finish of the Jules Verne Trophy on board Banque Populaire V

Day 45

Hi All

Jean Baptiste came on deck this morning and said to us "fast, but not furious", and that's been our mantra. Despite doing outstanding speeds the last 2 days we have not been furious, always been in control..The conditions have just been great with small seas and winds of 25-30 knots..we have been changing between the solent and small gennaker, and between one and two reefs in the main..

Top speed that I did on my last watch was 43.6! That's the fastest I will get to till the finish, as the wind will drop might well have been my last full on blast on this mighty machine..

However much we want to get to the finish, to accomplish the goal, to lift the stress of going this fast for so long, to see family and friends, to do other things than live in a carbon tunnel. There is part of you, a small but valid one that is sad to see it ending - could this be the best trip of a lifetime?

So am enjoying these last miles, these last hours as we blast past Ireland, the Scillies and onwards to the finish..

This afternoon has been busy, and like seeing the first jet contrails, the first fishing boats, we are experiencing the first signs of approaching civilisation, of reengagement with the land world..

At 1100 we had a satellite being guided to sit overhead to take picture, at 1300 a French navy/coastguard jet, a Falcon 50, from our boat's home port of Lorient, came to take video..
At 1500 we will get a call from the President of France...

It's all going on here!

ETA 2200 to midnight tonight. One last watch to go..and I think our lucky watch streak is going to continue, with having the start, finish and most of the major Capes during our time on deck..

Now with on reef and medium gennaker the wind is starting to drop a little.

We are having the most unorthodox arrival at the finish line - from the North. We almost certainly have now gone the furthest North (52N) and furthest South (62S) of any Jules Verne attempt..

More later after a brief afternoon sleep..


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Day 44

Guess how far we have to go.. 1000 MILES !

We have just turned over our countdown odometer from 1001 to 999!

So to now break the existing record, we have to average about 10 knots. 2 days ago, near Bermuda, it was 17 knots, and back at the Equator, 6 days ago, it was a 13 knots average required.

For a while there, we were slipping backwards on the record, and it could have turned out badly if the weather did not follow the predictions., as we were a long way from home..Fortunately it did, so now we are relatively secure speed wise, it's down to the great unknowns - equipment breakage and unseen floating objects, that could scupper our dreams now..We are being as prudent as possible, sailing at a good pace, but in control at all times, so we hope that will cover most of the risk of breakage, The other is in the lap of the gods to a large extent..

The speed of this boat is very deceptive, when you are below, or in the cuddy on deck, or even on the helm looking forwards, it all seems relatively tame. But a couple of times today I have been reminded that 35 knots is very, very fast indeed.

Earlier I went to the leeward side, to look at the gennaker trim, and watched the wake firing off the leeward hull. It's unbelievable how fast that looks, and how strongly you get the impression of the boat hurtling through the water..

The second time, I was steering, and Chab was standing by me to take over. We both looked away from the bow for an instant, and BAM! We were hit by a block of water that had been thrown into the air by the bows. That block had hung in the air, motionless, for an instant, and then the beam, 30m back, and our upper bodies drove into it at 35 was like lying on the floor and a 25kg flour sack being dropped on your chest from a 4m height. Chab thought he had been punched in the head, though fortunately,he did not think it was me!

Normally when a watery wrecking ball like that comes through you crouch right down in a fast, reflexive move, but this time we missed it..However, it was extremely funny at the time, and I was glad to have had a good hold of the helm, to not get knocked off it..

Will send more later.,

Time for 1h 20m sleep..

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Day 43

After 2 days of making almost zero progress to the finish, delightful sailing though it was, we are now making serious inroads into the remaining miles, clocking off over 30 miles every hour..equivalent to the Needles to Cherbourg in 2 hours, over and over again!

We are now firmly embedded in the perfect spot in the isobars squeezing between the Azores High and the approaching cold front. The wind is nearly 30 knots and we are sailing fast with 2 reefs, small gennaker and staysail.

A very familiar sail combination from the Southern Ocean, but not seen on board for the last 10 days of reaching up the Tropical Atlantic.

Our finest entertainment last night?during our night watch, was having to avoid a huge container ship that was coming towards us, slightly from our right hand side. We were on a collision course, and we were perhaps the only boats within a 100 miles. It often seems to happen like that..

We had a closing velocity of 50 knots with the ship, and it was not changing course for us, so we had to ease our sails, then luff a bit closer to the wind., to pass a hundred meters away from it..




Record breaking British sailor, Brian Thompson, is currently on course to smash the ultimate round the world speed record as part of the crew aboard the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V, skippered by Frenchman Loick Peyron.

Just 42 days ago Loick Peyron, together with his crew of 13, crossed the start line in Brest, France in pursuit of the Jules Verne Trophy, a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht. Today they look set to beat the current record which stands at 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds, held by Groupama 3, as they prepare to blast their way across the Atlantic towards the finish line.

South coast based Thompson is the only British crew member onboard Banque Populaire V and, commenting on their progress earlier today, said:

‘We are delighted with our current status and keeping everything crossed that we can enter the record books later this week. I am very proud to be flying the flag for Britain on this voyage and, this being the fourth time I have raced non-stop around the world, have been able to make many comparisons with previous circumnavigations. Believe me, the exhilaration of being onboard Banque Populaire V is like nothing else I have experienced!’

Thompson is no stranger to world records having made it into the history books already by achieving an impressive portfolio of sailing records. A vastly experienced and successful offshore sailor, Thompson has been racing the two and three-hulled speed machines for twenty years, notching up an impressive twenty-five sailing records and setting him apart from every world class sailor on the grand prix circuit.

On successful completion of this voyage, Thompson will also become the first Briton to circumnavigate the globe non-stop for a fourth time, beating existing records held by fellow sailors Dee Caffari MBE and Mike Golding OBE. With the 2012 Olympic Games looming, the focus this year will be on the sportsmen and women of Britain achieving great things and if offshore sailing were classified as an Olympic sport, surely Brian Thompson and the crew would be on course for gold.


For media enquiries please contact Vicky Pounds:
+44(0)7775 336626

Day 42

Going through the Sargasso Sea today - there is the weed everywhere..

We have not caught any of this weed on our foils, though last night we caught a plastic bag on the leeward rudder. We had to furl the gennaker, head upwind to slow down, then go backwards to clear the bag, then unfurl the gennaker and set off again..

But what is a plastic bag doing in the middle of the Atlantic? Someone must have thrown it off a vessel - not good. Like all racing boats, we keep every bit of non food or paper items till we get back to land.

Not much wildlife out here that we have seen at these speeds..

Wind is picking up today, now it's double yesterday's wind. We have18 knots and we are in the high 20's of boatspeed. Running downwind with full main, medium gennaker and staysail..

Still fantastic sailing conditions around the High Pressure system, and after what may be our final gybe this afternoon, we are heading more towards the Old World of Europe than the New World..Good news!

Yesterday evening in the lighter wind Pym and Manu made a thorough inspection of all the watertight compartments on the boat, and Florent went to the top of the mast and down again to completely check the mast. Pym and Florent have been tireless this whole voyage, they have always been on top of all the little maintenance jobs around the boat..

So from the West a cold front approaches, and the tightening of the isobars will slowly increase our wind speed during the night..But the plan is to always stay ahead of the front and in the optimum wind speed for us. We should be able to fine tune our position to do this. That's the wonder of the latest weather models from the US and Europe, of the routing software on board, and of having an extremely fast boat that can keep up with a speeding low pressure system!

Last night was incredible for the stars - even with half a moon shining. It was another great dawn and sunrise at the end of the night too. Our watch is the lucky one currently, having sunset and sunrise on our on watch times.

Anyway, it's time to prepare another freezedried dinner party for 14 this evening..

And the mighty Banque Populaire is now heading for the barn!


A PS from Hannah! We are putting together a collection of messages and comments together on Brian's website for him and the rest of the world to read on his return. Many of you have been sending in some lovely comments, so if you would like to post a message over the next week, either willing the winds to stay for the weekend, or to (hopefully) congratulate him, then please either send them to me at, or to


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Day 41

Just come off watch, and we are gliding along 'gently' at 23 knots in 14 knots of wind. We have full main and medium gennaker up.

We are approaching the corner of this big, windless High Pressure area, so by this time tomorrow we should be well round the corner and curving our course towards home. We are currently still not 'heading for the barn', unless that barn was in Maine, USA...

We will be in the lighter airs of the High tonight before we touch the new Southerly winds that will take us home.

This morning was another 'good watch', - full of stars at first, with Ursa Major (the plough or the big dipper) to the North, pointing the way to Polaris, the Pole Star. All are stars of the Northern Hemisphere, and unseen by us for most of the last month..

Then dawn very slowly crept over us from the Eastern horizon, illuminating the boat lumen by lumen, and making it easier to steer the boat to the telltales on the gennaker.

And finally, we played with a series of early morning rain showers, steering the boat around them to keep in the best winds. In a boat like this, much faster than the wind, we can use the clouds to our advantage, rather than be a victim of them..

Anyway time for my off watch now, and time to get the sleeping bag out, just to have as a duvet. Temp down to a v.pleasant 22/23C.

We are now on the same latitude as Key West, Florida, and 800 miles NE of Antigua.

Thinking I might now be able to make the RORC Caribbean 600 race, in Feb from Antigua...a busman's holiday, as we say in the UK..


Day 40, New Years Day

Hope everyone is having a Good New Years Day. We have decided to spend our day off....sailing.

So it's been 40 days and 40 nights at sea, and we are just 2600 miles from the start/finish line. We have a lead of 2000 miles over the current record holder, on the same day. And we are heading for the Continent at 35 knots.

What could be more perfect? However, eagle eyed followers of the Banque Pop tracker may notice just one tiny detail that is wrong..we are heading for the wrong continent!

A Boston finish is just not going to be acceptable to the Jules Verne committee. So why are we heading for the New World, instead of the Old?

Near the Azores there is going to be a great expanse of light winds associated with the High Pressure, and therefore we are having to head well West to catch the wind from an approaching low pressure system that arrives from the the West. Then ride that wind all the way around the High Pressure to the finish. It's the Long Route, but it's our best option. At least with the speed of Banque Populaire we can position ourselves quickly around the oceans weather systems. We are rather like a surfer who has to paddle out further offshore as a big set's going to be worth it - when that atmospheric wave arrives..

On deck it's great conditions, we are sailing at 120 TWA in 28 knots of wind With the staysail and one reef in the main. The sun is shining and it's a pleasure to steer the boat at 30-40 knots of speed.

We are at the latitude of Antigua, but it's not shorts and T shirt sailing on board today..We need full on protection from the flying spray, so we are wearing our Musto foul weather top and trousers, and donning Gath surf helmets to be able to look forwards..

The spray flies off the front of the central hull each time it lands back in the water, then divides around the front beam and flies back horizontally to hit the cockpit area..for the big lumps of water, it's worth ducking, as the force in the water can knock you backwards..

With the surf helmet, which is like a light motorbike helmet, you gain a lot more vision for helming without the spray firing into your eyes, but you do lose out on 2 others senses, that of hearing, you miss out on what others are saying around you, and of touch, feeling the wind speed on your face..
But it's a deal well worth making..

Now we are concentrating on intercepting that low pressure and riding it till the finish..

New Years Eve went well last night, no wild nights for anyone, but we did add to our normal freezedried food with some pate de foie gras and some saucisson to start..

Day 40 on Cheyenne, the big catamaran that we set the RTW record in 58 days, with Steve Fossett, we were just rounding Cape Horn, on St Patricks Day..

On Day 40 of the Vendee Globe solo race, I was somewhere south of Australia..

It's good to be on Banque Populaire!


Day 39 NYE

Another year draws to a close and on board Banque Populaire we are hoping the beginning of 2012 is better than the end of 2011!

Because since we left the doldrums, we have been reaching in 30 + knots of wind, with a lumpy sea state. Not much fun, and we have reduced sail to 2 reefs and the ORC, which is a large storm jib sail.

A few hundred miles up the track the Tradewinds are less strong so come 2012, we should be in much better conditions.

Not much sleeping possible as you are thrown around in your bunk by the boats motion so much, but the off watch are at least getting some horizontal time, interspersed with moments of vertical movement!

Going on watch in a few minutes, and dawn will follow soon afterwards, so the will be able to see these waves better, and try to avoid the potholes..

Just time for another bowl of hot porridge, to mark our position on the wall chart, and put on the Musto foul weather gear, then into action!

Happy New Year!


Day 37

Hi All

Just an update on the world around our small boat..

We are now back in the Doldrums. Its squally, with the wind and waves shifting now from the SE to the NE..

As we are heading North, it's turned from a Magic Carpet ride to a WRC rally car one. It's back to controlling the speed rather than maximizing it, as we guide our machine over the rough and bumpy aquatic road..

We should be out of the doldrums during the first part of the night, we hope.

In the natural world, of course the magnificent albatross have long gone, and been replaced by a variety of tropical seabirds.
Most of them seem uninterested in the boat, we just pass them by, rather than be the pied piper to an avian troop, like in the Southern Ocean..except for one large white booby bird, which flew just 5 or 10 metres above our heads today, staring down at us intently for 30 mins.

Of course there are many other flying creatures, launching themselves out of the water when they sense us coming, yes, there are flying fish everywhere.

Any avid readers of this blog might remember the strange apparition in the sky on Xmas Day night. It looked like a searchlight pointing into the sky.

Well, our brilliant shore router, Marcel van Triest, has discovered that it was indeed a comet, which has been named Comet Lovejoy, and it's a Kreutz comet, that will only be seen well in the Southern Hemisphere. It is one of the 'great' comets of recent times. We were so lucky to see it, and to see it unexpectedly, so that we could be both amazed, intrigued and confounded, like in earlier times. And we are also lucky to be around in 2011, when we can so quickly discover the fascinating reality of it, even from the centre of the Atlantic Ocean...