Geronimo collecting records
There was a time when the news of a sailboat's record-making transpacific crossing would have captured the public's imagination and made headlines in this town.
But, of course, that was before astronauts landed on the moon and flying to the mainland and back became more like a bus ride than a singular act of courage.
Still, I think it's important to report that the huge trimaran Geronimo that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago did, in fact, set an L.A.-to-Honolulu record, as expected.
Its record crossing was unusual in that it was accomplished in November, rather than in the summer months, when our tradewinds are the most reliable, and that it was done outside the framework of any organized race.
This latter factor meant that the boat could (and did) go back and restart if its crew decided the conditions early on were unfavorable for a record run.
But, of course, that was all part of the game plan for the French owners of Geronimo -- Capgemini and Schneider Electric.
The maxi-trimaran has been sent on a worldwide quest to break records.
As I mentioned before, Geronimo holds the record for circumnavigating the world in a bit over 63 days, circumnavigating Australia in about 17 1/2 days, and making a record passage from Australia to Tahiti in just over 13 days.
Now it can scratch L.A.-to-Honolulu off its record-list with an elapsed time passage of 4 days, 19 hours, 31 minutes and 37 seconds (subject to ratification) over the 2,225 nautical-mile course.
Geronimo's time eclipsed the previous record set in 1997 by another French trimaran, Explorer -- skippered by Bruno Peyron -- by some 13 hours.
So what was it like to run before the tradewinds aboard a three-hulled carbon-fiber vessel that is 110 feet long, more than 70 feet wide and has a mast more than 130 feet tall?
"Elegant sailing out here on the world's fastest trimaran," said Cam Lewis, one of two American sailors on board. "Smoking hot sailing with a full mainsail, big genaker and staysail up, and spray flying off the leeward bow."
"Flying over the moonlit ocean last night at speeds of up to 30 knots was magical beyond words," he added somewhat poetically.
Geronimo crossed the Diamond Head finish line under a moonlit sky at 4:36 a.m. on Nov. 18, and then cautiously waited until daylight to make its way to Hawaii Yacht Club's Aloha Dock in the Ala Wai marina.
But with more records to break, Geronimo's stay was brief and by the morning of Nov. 21 its towering presence in the harbor was gone.
Geronimo is now sailing back to the mainland and will visit a San Diego boatyard for some fine-tuning before taking off again for an assault on another record -- the passage from San Francisco to Japan, it's rumored.