Emotion and passion....
It was in the prestigious surroundings of the Paris Maritime Museum on December 12th 2001 that the American Steve Fossett was awarded the official trophies crowning his extraordinary time on the Atlantic crossing last October 10th. As for Gilles Ollier, architect and builder of the catamaran Jet Services V, ex-holder of the record, he handed over the design trophy to Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin, the "fathers" of Steve Fossett's catamaran PlayStation.
Gilles Ollier: "Some people think or suggest that I should be sad having lost the reference time on the Atlantic that our boats have so many times beaten and held for 13 years.
Well, not at all! I am happy that it has gone to the Americans and that our rather French omnipotence in large multihull matters, has taken a beating. So it is with great pleasure that I present this design cup to Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin, because the time of 4 days 17 hours and 28 mn recorded on this course is an outstanding performance. It will force us into being more imaginative in the creation of our boats, so that we can go and fetch the trophy back from the USA", said the naval architect after passing the baton to Steve Fossett's crew.To which Gino Morelli replied: "With great pleasure. It revives the challenge. We'll be waiting for you in New York, the starting place of the record."The atmosphere was relaxed between these two creators of machines that, we all know, are so difficult to build, develop and sail reliably.
A time for emotions
Skipper of Jet Services V, twice breaker of the record in 1988 and 1990, Frenchman Serge Madec, beyond the performance that he underlined as a connoisseur, insisted on the determination of Steve Fossett who set out from the "Big Apple" for a fourth attempt, just one month after the Twin Towers catastrophe. Knowing the place well having spent long weeks waiting for a favourable weather window for his attempts, the French sailor could assess probably more than anyone the immense distress of the American people and this extraordinary revenge over adversity.But it was the words of Agnès Caradec, widow of the late skipper Loïc Caradec lost at sea during the Route du Rhum in 1986, which were the most fitting. Addressing Steve Fossett in the language of Shakespeare before presenting him the trophy that bears the name of her late husband, she stated three reasons in her opinion why the skipper of PlayStation stands out: "firstly you are still around to exceed all limits, both in boats and with your other challenges. Then you achieved an incredible performance. Finally, you didn't hesitate to start when your country was suffering, demonstrating with your boat that all is still possible".
In the room, several sailors received these words with reverence. Among them Philippe Facque, co-skipper of Royale, alongside Loïc Caradec, also Philippe Poupon, a one-time holder of the record himself. Finally, those crewmembers of Jet Services V who were present, Olivier Despaignes and Dominique Conin, two of their comrades in arms, Frenchman Paul Vatine and the Canadian Gerry Roofs, having been lost at sea.
Probably the most prestigious sailing record, the Atlantic continues to fascinate. All the other existing maxi-multihulls have included it, or are going to include it, in their programmes. Bruno Peyron on Orange and Olivier de Kersauson on Geronimo will no doubt be pointing their bows across the 'pond' after their Jules Verne attempts. And Cam Lewis will be back on Team Adventure when he has repaired the damage suffered by his catamaran during his unsuccessful attempt on this same course last August.Attempts that will be followed with great attention by Gilles Ollier and his Design Team and the Multiplast yard, because they designed and built Orange and Team Adventure. And Geronimo (a Van Peteghem & Lauriot-Prévost design) was also built by Multiplast. And if these multihulls which are a little shorter than PlayStation don't manage to depose the American catamaran, then we can imagine that the multihulls of the next generation designed by the Gilles Ollier Design Team and built by Multiplast will be up to the job. With the analyses and the lessons drawn from The Race won by Club Med, sister ship to Team Adventure and Orange, studies have already been started. And tank-testing simulations will start in January 2002.
Prizes & Trophies
Steve Fossett was awarded the 'Trophée de la Ville de Lyon' and a cheque for 200,000 FF by Richard Gamberini, Communications Manager of Jet Services and the 'Trophée Loïc Caradec' by Agnès Caradec and Serge Madec. PlayStation's architects, Gino Morelli and Pete Melvin received the design cup from the hands of Gilles Ollier.
References / The Atlantic records
1905 - Atlantic, 56 m schooner, 12d 04h 01mn 19s A Gardner design
1980 - Paul Ricard, 17 m tri-foiler, 10d 5h 14mn 20s A De Berg design
1981 – Elf Aquitaine I, 20 m catamaran, 9d 10h 6mn 34s A Langevin design
1984 – Jet Services II, 18.28 m catamaran, 8d 16h 36mn An Ollier design
1985 – Royale II, 25 m catamaran, 7d 21h 5mn 42s A Graal design
1987 – Fleury Michon VIII, 22.50 m trimaran, 7d 12h 49mn 34s An Irens design
1988 – Jet Services V, 22.85 m catamaran, 7d 6h 30mn An Ollier design
1990 – Jet Services V, 22.85 m catamaran, 6d 13h 3mn 32s An Ollier design
2001 – PlayStation –38 m catamaran, 4d 17h 28mn 06s A Morrelli & Melvin