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Branson's transatlantic challenge faces storm

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-10-23

Billionaire Richard Branson and his yacht Virgin Money met bad weather and high winds in their quest to break the world record for crossing the Atlantic.

Billionaire Richard Branson and his giant sailing yacht Virgin Money confronted "brutal" seas Thursday in a quest to break the world record for crossing Atlantic.
   
"Brutal, but amazing," Sam Branson, son of the British tycoon, wrote in his blog, 24 hours after leaving New York.
   
"The winds have been up to gale force eight and we’ve had sea swells up to 35 feet (10 meters) and seen speeds of 30 knots," Branson wrote.
   
"As the breast of the ship crashes over every wave a loud shudder runs down through the whole boat."
   
Richard Branson was joined by his children Sam and Holly and a crew of champion sailors for the attempt at breaking the monohull sailing record of six days, 17 hours, 39 minutes and 52 seconds.
   
Video footage relayed from Virgin Money showed the 99-foot (30-meter) yacht plunging through heavy spray under stormy skies.
   
The course runs 2,925 nautical miles through some of the world's roughest ocean, starting from New York and finishing at Lizard Point at the craggy southwestern tip of Britain.
   
Mike Sanderson, who achieved that record in 2003, aboard the yacht Mari Cha IV, is now skipper of Branson's attempt.
   
Also joining the crew is British dinghy racing hero Ben Ainslie, winner of three Olympic golds and one silver.
   
Virgin Money left New York ahead of schedule on Wednesday to dodge a big storm descending on the area.
   
However, the bad weather and high winds are exactly what the boat's navigators want to exploit in their bid to push the boat to maximum speeds.
   
"If we keep up this pace, we'll break the record," Branson told CNN by phone. "The first 24 hours was better than we expected and the forecast ahead is good. There're really strong winds." 

Date created : 2008-10-23

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