A most interesting e-mail came our way a few weeks ago, inviting us to join a cadre of journalists going to Portugal to sail aboard the 112-foot catamaran Club Med. We spent about a nanosecond determining our answer and shot back a response. Now, all SailNet readers can share the experience by logging on to this section of the website for a little vicarious action.
Unless youve been residing under a rock or doing your taxes 24-7 for the past several months, youll recognize Club Med as the Gilles Ollier-designed maxi catamaran that was conceived and built as an entrant in this winters ultimate sailing extravaganzaThe Race. The course for this no-holds-barred contest will take competitors out of the Mediterranean Sea from Barcelona, Spain, and south through the Atlantic, across the Indian Ocean, around the polar icecap, through the South Pacific until they arrive in the South Atlantic once again and head home to the finish in Marseilles, France. Club Med is one of some seven entrants that The Race organizers expect will qualify and make it to the starting line on time.Crafted in carbon fiber and Nomex honeycomb, the boat measures 112-feet by 53 feet, with a 136-foot rotating wing mast. During her sea trials this summer, Club Med established two new significant records for ocean speed sailing. She crossed the Atlantic from Cadiz, Spain, to San Salvador in the Bahamas in 10 days, 14 hours, 54 minutes, and 43 seconds. During that voyage, skipper Grant Dalton and his crew logged a new 24-hour record by sailing 625.7 miles. Just to give you a little context, that implies an average speed of over 26 knots. If youve ever gone 14 knots, you know thats fast for a sailboat, so imagine making steady progress at almost twice that speed.
Early this fall, Dalton moved his base of operations to Vilamoura, Portugal, to undergo final preparations. For roughly six weeks, while based at Club Med da Balaia, he and his crew plan to continue their physical training ashore and boat testing on the water. Theyll also use the time to familiarize themselves with the winds in the region of Gibraltarknowledge that may prove critical during The Race. And, theyll spend some time catering to the media, which is where SailNet comes in. Log on to this space on SailNets homepage beginning October 18 and Ill tell you what its like to storm across the water with 112 feet of turbo-charged catamaran underneath your feet.