Mike Sanderson and his crew aboard ABN AMRO ONE might be looking at the World Record for the fastest 24 hour monohull run – if the World Sailing Speed Record Council ratifies the time – but there have been some illustrious predecessors and indeed, 22.7 knots looks pretty pedestrian against various other records.
In terms of flat out speed, then we have to look at the toothpick sailboards with a remarkable 48.7 knots racked up by Finian Maynard in the speed sailing trench in the South of France. His speed was set in April 2005 in a Mistral blowing about 45 knots – just one man in a slinky silver suit standing on a tiny board and hanging on to a 10sq m sail.
On the hard stuff, speeds are even more amazing thanks to the lower drag of wheels on land. Sailing boats have the problem of wave-making drag or, at speed, friction on the hull to content with – let alone dragging the keel, rudder and daggerboard through the water. Currently Iron Duck holds the sailing land speed record at 116.7 miles an hour, set in 1999. The ice yacht record, even less drag thanks to skates on ice, was set a surprising 62 years ago by John D Buckstaff who achieved 145 miles an hour – though there is a bit of a dispute over that figure, some people preferring the 115 miles an hour set in 1938. Which ever way you cut it though, those things are fast!
ABN AMRO ONE took away movistar’s accolade of the previous fastest monohull 24 hour run of 530.19 nm when she clocked 546 nm to take the GANT TIME 24 hours run record, but one of the first to congratulate the ABN AMRO crew was previous holder Bouwe Bekking. At present movistar’s skipper is languishing in Portimão waiting for repairs to his boat to be completed and Bouwe sent this message to Mike Sanderson, “World records are there to be broken. It was evident in my opinion our record would be broken several times in this Volvo race. Well done to Moose and his boys by breaking the 24 hour monohull record in these early stages.” We hope that Mike had sent a similar note to Bouwe some time ago, as movistar had taken the record from Mr Sanderson who held it while skipper of Robert Millar’s 140ft Mari Cha IV. Mari Cha IV was the first monohull to break the 500 mile barrier, setting a bench mark at 511.4 miles or 21.3 knots.
Previous world 24 hour runs have been set in this very race, perhaps the biggest milestone being Fortuna’s 405 miles set during the 1988-89 event. Interestingly, bearing in mind this was the race that featured the epic battle between the maxis Steinlager II and Fisher and Paykel, it was Fortuna that was the first boat to beat 400 miles in a day – a figure that passes without comment in this Volvo Ocean Race.
In 1993-94 there was a good battle for 24 hour records between Intrum Justitia and Yamaha. Intrum started with a run of 425 miles; Yamaha came back a leg later with 427, then Intrum finally squeezed out an additional mile to take the record with 428.
In the first Volvo Ocean Race, in 2001-02, the world record was set by John Kostecki’s illbruck during the transatlantic run from the US to Europe, a distance of 484 miles in the 24 hour period.
ABN AMRO ONE’s record is not yet ratified by the World Sailing Speed Records council, a 13 person team of experts led by John Reed in the UK. The Council receives the data on the boat’s run from a boat independent source – like the Volvo Ocean Race HQ - including the 12 hours before the run and 12 hours after. John then checks the figures, does the calculations – and sometimes find a better run than the one claimed – which they did where illbruck was concerned in the last Volvo Ocean Race. Then the data is emailed to all the Council members who do their own sums and let John have the result of their deliberations. It usually takes around 48 hours to ratify a record.
Asked which was his favourite 24 hour run, John Reed came up with the 1994 record set by Laurent Bourgournon in Primagaz. Single-handed, sailing an Open 60 trimaran during a transatlantic, Laurent clocked a remarkable 540 miles, 22.5 knots, a record that stood for many years.
One thing that Mike Sanderson can be sure of, his record won’t stand for long. If the winds don’t serve to have another go on this leg, there are two Southern Ocean legs next to come and surely the conditions will be right for more miles on the clock. History shows, however, that these runs are usually set in the Atlantic not down among the albatross, the massive rollers and the ice, a case of Southern Ocean discretion being the better part of valour perhaps.