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The world's greatest sailing record

After some five years in the sponsor-hunting and planning stage, 18 months in the build, finally Olivier de Kersauson's dream will begin later today when he embarks on the first of a four year program of breaking the world's greatest sailing records.

Geronimo, the Frenchman's 110ft long by 69ft wide trimaran is due to slip her moorings in Brest this afternoon and will then head up to the start line between Ushant and the Lizard before setting off on her attempt to break the record for sailing non-stop round the world. Ironically de Kersauson will be setting out to break his own record for the Jules Verne Trophy. This currently stands 71 days 14 hours 22 minutes and 8 seconds for the 26,500 miles sprint round the planet.
The prospect of gear failure in the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean are high and it should be remembered that although de Kersauson has been trailing his new work horse since her launch in late July, this is her first real outing in competition mode. The reliability of the boat has already been questioned when last autumn her mast broke above the hounds. The new mast was only delivered and fitted last week.

De Kersauson himself has set out on this record more times than anyone. After his aborted attempt in 1993, he set off a year later hot on the heels of ENZA New Zealand, who succeeded in lowering the record to 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes and 22 seconds. On this occasion de Kersauson made it round, but failed to better Blake and Knox-Johnston's time. Doggedly determined to better their record, he set off on several occasions in subsequent years, only to return when the weather proved not to work in his favor. Finally in May 1997 de Kersauson finally achieved success knocking another three days off ENZA's record.


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