The fastest sailboat that has ever sailed the oceans has just become faster, at least in theory.
Latitude readers will likely remember the incredible sailing machine Banque Populaire V, which covered an almost unbelievable 908 miles in 24 hours en route to shattering the transatlantic record back in 2009. The 140-ft long VPLP-designed maxi-trimaran went on to set nearly every major record in ocean sailing including the transatlantic in both directions and nonstop around the world in a scant 45 days, 13 hours, and 43 minutes. After her record round-the-world run, the boat was sold to Swiss billionaire Dona Bertarelli (sister to Alinghi syndicate owner Ernesto Bertarelli) and renamed Spindrift 2. After breaking her own east-to-west transatlantic record in early 2014, Spindrift 2 went on to compete in last year’s Route du Rhum solo race across the Atlantic before she returned to the shed for a major refit and an all-new adventure.
With structural modifications, a new engine, a slightly shorter (and 25% lighter) mast, and all new sails, Spindrift 2 has been thoroughly optimized with the main goals being to reduce overall weight, weight aloft and loads. By pulling more than a ton (!) of weight out of the carbon-fiber mast, rigging and sails, the boat should — in theory at least — be faster on all points of sail without a reduction in reliability, even considering that the boat’s structure itself has been lightened significantly. Her main goal? To break her own Jules Verne Trophy record for the fastest nonstop round-the-world circumnavigation.
While Spindrift 2 looks to break her own lofty record, another boat is in the works that should be even faster. Enter Baron Benjamin de Rothschild’s Gitana racing syndicate. The same group that sailed into San Francisco Bay in 2008 on maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 to set the record from New York to San Francisco has recently announced plans to build the first built-from-the-ground-up fully-foiling maxi-trimaran that the world has ever seen. Skipper Seb Josse and the entire Gitana team has been hard at work to develop the platform and technology for the new foiling maxi-tri by modifying their MOD70 Edmond de Rothschild, which is breaking records as we speak. Expect the boat to be on the water — and above it — in mid-2017 with a Jules Verne attempt that winter.