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Everything on Orange II is BIG. Most of the hardware is the largest custom equipment ever made for a racing yacht. In spite of the size, weight savings is critical. Most of the blocks and hardware are fastened with spectra strops, and even the propellers and prop shafts have been removed. Down below, the boat is actually quite roomy one you get used to the narrowness of the hull.

Each hull is divided into separate areas for crew space, navigation, media, galley, and workspace. Unlike a Volvo 70, crew comfort was obviously considered in the design of Orange II with fully enclosed heads, an ďinternet cafťĒ in each hull for crew use, and most importantly, huge spray dodgers in each cockpit. From a creature comfort standard, however, the nicest feature for the ocean going crew is the boot warmers that are heated with exhaust from the main generator.

At speed with a hull flying, the cockpit of Orange II looks downright placid compared to an oceangoing monohull. That doesnít mean that work on deck isnít filled with constant peril. The aptly named trampoline stretching 18m (60 ft) between the hulls is amazingly flexible. While underway, ďgetting muggedĒ by a wave breaking through the trampoline at 20+ knots is a constant threat and has been the major cause of injury in previous record attempts.

When the crew safely arrives at the mast, the real work begins. Working sails are set on their own headstays and are usually left in bags on deck due to their size. Larger gennakers are set off furlers from a bowsprit.

Photo. Ryan OíGrady/BYMNews

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Itís one oíclock in the afternoon in Newport, Rhode Island. While most of the city is absorbed with the womenís US Open golf tournament, the crew of Orange II is busy rooting against England in their World Cup quarterfinal match. Judging by the demeanor of the crew, you would never know that they were an hour away from starting an attempt to break what has been the most difficult ocean racing record of the past century. In that time, the transatlantic record has been broken only seven times, and the current bar is set very high. To beat the record, this crew, that now seems to be more occupied by the extra time period, must pilot their 120ft yacht at an average speed of around 27 knots for over 3000 miles through some of the most treacherous seas on the planet, seas that have already claimed one ocean racing yacht this season.

Photo. Ryan OíGrady/BYMNews

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Even though he was busy with last minute preparations, Orange IIís skipper Bruno Peyron took some time out to share with us his thoughts on the record attempt, as well as his vision for a new World Record Attempt circuit.

BYM: What are the factors of weather routing for a record attempt?

BP: We are looking for the right wind speed and angle over our route. Obviously sea state has a lot to do with it because what we are looking for in the sea state is to get the maximum velocity out of the boat at a given angle and VMG. This is why I vote to start today in front of the southwesterly wind and hope to stay in front of the weather and seas.

We want to get over the Grand Banks before the seas come up and our weather routing is asking us to go not very close from Grand Point, a little bit south and that will allow us to keep the right angle even if it is a bit further in distance.

Photo. Ryan OíGrady/BYMNews

BYM: Discuss the speed potential of Orange II in a perfect world

BP: Itís not the case today with the weather system we are expecting for this week, but I am pretty convinced that this generation of G-Class, even this one that we can get under 4 days. I can bet that we are there in the coming five years.

BYM: What is the likelihood of a 24hr record during the crossing?

BP: That is honestly our second goal here. Our first goal is to achieve the best time possible [across the Atlantic.] The second goal is to try to break our own record of 706 miles in 24 hours, but to be honest, we are not going to break our route to go chasing the 24 hour record. We know we are able to improve it, by 15 or 20 miles if we choose to do so, if we keep the right angle, but thatís another game.

BYM: You must be satisfied that every year more and more maxi multihulls are being built. Does this mean we will see another edition of the Race soon?

BP: (smiles) Yes, of course I am satisfied by this and it shows my crazy vision, of 16 years ago, was not that stupid. Of course it looks like it took a little more time than I expected, but thatís life. It looked quite logical a few years ago and when you see these types of machines it look like itís obvious that these are the types of boats for ocean crossings.

BYM: Are there too many record attempts today and does that reduce the media impact on established records like this one?

BP: As a matter of fact, it will become naturally selective because we all together launched the World Record Championship prepared 4 years ago, before we canceled the second edition of the Race. That is the Record World Championship, where we all agreed on the number of records we accept to be part of this championship, like around the world and transatlantic and so on, where around the world is worth 6 points, a transatlantic is 3 points, maybe around the Isle of Wight is 1 point and so on. Any other record I find to be very respectable, because it is good for the local markets, or whatever reason But with this world championship, itís like the Grand Slam in tennis, or the Formula One, a different kind of level and everyone will understand very easily in the coming months and years.

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Photo. Marian Martin/BYMNews

BYM: Orange has been a loyal sponsor for you, but do the increasing number of races and record attempts make it harder for a new team to obtain funding?

BP: Actually, I feel the contrary. The more experience we all get together and the more itís easy. It seems logical to learn how to sell a project. I mean you donít sell a project for a stupid reason; you just sell a project because it is interesting. Take this time, itís like a 1 million project and we have to build a global environment for the project in order to give them impact; a reason to invest, otherwise it isnít very strong to ask for the money upfront. I donít know, I guess you can do that, but thatís not the point. The point is to build and create a real proficient environment and thatís a lot easier now than it was 20 years ago. 

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BYM: Whatís next for Orange II?

BP: Whatís next? Well because we are looking out to be No.1 in the world now with this new ranking, which I have pushed for the last few years and with our syndicates Ď93, í97, 2001 with Club Med, 2002, 2004, 2005. Itís been about 7 years where our main goal is to try to stay No.1 which can be a lot more difficult now than in the past because the level of our competition is higher, so thatís very simple. How to stay No 1 is to try to get the best times in each additional record of this world championship and you can understand what is new in this organization is that instead of breaking or not breaking a record, which is black and white, even if you arrive and you donít break the record, but you make the best time of the year, you get 10 points, maybe 6 points, so itís very good for the sponsors, good for sailors, good for the press because you try to finish and even if you donít break the record, you can still be No1 or No 2 for a year and you go about continuing your job.

Photo. Carlo Borlenghi

BYM: Does the apparent lack of American interest in ocean records make it harder for you to base your campaign here for a period of time?

BP: Yes and no. You see itís very easy to say that, and I know that scene pretty well and when I decided to stay here for 3 months in 1986 for the centennial of the Statue of Liberty with my catamaran whose name was Liberty, everybody was saying the same thing that there would be no coverage whatsoever, but in reality the coverage was amazing and we spent 3 months here with crowds everywhere. Now itís a little bit different because the main market for Orange is Europe and Orange just launched a new subsidiary in the US, but itís not for 5 or 6 weeks and not too many people are aware of a global project and so on. I know that if one day we have to create a specific program for the American market, I know how to do it. Iíve done it twice, once on the East Coast and once on the West Coast with a transpacific. When we went for the transpacific record in 1997, people were saying the same thing about the Japanese, but we had their most important magazine come aboard and when we crossed the finish line at the Golden Gate, there were seven Japanese TV stations waiting. So no, itís just a different methodology [here in the US] and weíre professionals to know how to sell sailing properly and everybodyís the same. Curiosity is not just a French trait and thereís a story out there, you just have to go get it.

BYM: Thank you and best of luck on your record attempt.

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Photo. Ryan OíGrady/BYMNews

It was soon time for the French crew to leave; the departure, from Newport Shipyard, was more difficult than originally planned due to 13 knots of breeze pushing Orange II on to the dock. Various work boats and tenders were collected, to form a makeshift tug armada, and soon Orange II was away from the docks and being towed out towards Narragansett Bay. A small, but eager, spectator fleet waited patiently for the mainsail to be raised to the second reef point. Orange II then slipped the lines from her tender and hoisted the small staysail for a quick pass around the Bay before heading out to sea and the start of the Transatlantic Record. Even with a minimal amount of sail, Orange II was soon flying a hull and accelerating to 20 knots. By the time she cleared Castle Hill, most of the spectator fleet was unable to keep up. A quick pass of the US Womenís Open was the final obligation, before Orange II raced off to the horizon, heading west towards the start.

More pictures of maxi-catamarans & trimarans, including Orange IIís preparation and departure, can by found HERE.