Maxi Cat nearing end of North Pacific record attempt

Positioned 271 miles from the finish, the 110ft maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 is expected into Yokohama tonight, at the end of her attempt on the San Francisco-Yokohama record. The catamaran currently has a lead of 914 miles over Geronimo, the current holder of the North Pacific record.

However, for Lionel Lemonchois and his ten crew, everything will depend on the the final miles prior to Cape Nojima, which marks the entrance into Tokyo Bay. They face a 30 mile beat in order to make the finish line, situated at the far end of the bay off Yokohama.

Skipper Lionel Lemonchois comments: “It’s a bit full on!” We’ve had it all: gusts at over 58 knots, storms accompanied by lightning and heavy with rain. Right now the wind has calmed down a little and we’ve only got 25 knots. We’re currently sailing under staysail with two reefs in the mainsail. We’re a little under-canvassed but the sea state is forcing us to sail in this configuration”

Indeed, with average waves of 8 metres, reaching as high as 10 metres at times, the handling of the maxi-catamaran has been acrobatic to say the least: “We’re surfing at 30 knots with virtually nothing aloft. It’s impressive and above all very demanding for the helmsmen. The past few hours have been stressful for everyone.” In these conditions, it is difficult, even impossible to get any sleep. Despite all this, the crew has remained in watch configuration; although given the vast amount of trimming to be done, the crew normally on standby were on deck with those on watch.

“We are on the home straight and there’s no way we can rush things. We making headway with care, trying to prevent too much pressure on the gear as much as we can” said Lemonchois.

Keep up with the final hours of the record attempt here