Swiss tycoon’s crew gives up yacht title bid

Bad weather has forced a sailboat crew headed by Swiss billionaire Dona Bertarelli and her partner to abandon a bid to claim the Jules Verne trophy for the fastest yacht voyage around the world.

Swiss tycoon's crew gives up yacht title bid
Photo: Spindrift Racing

The crew of the Spindrift 2 trimaran said on Sunday after 43 days at sea that it was “no longer mathematically possible” to beat the current record set in 2012 by a crew skippered by Frenchman Loick Peyron.

“The weather forecast will not allow it, that’s a fact,” Bertarelli’s partner and the boat’s skipper Yann Guichard said in a message posted on the Spindrift Racing website.

Peyron’s team circumnavigated the globe in 45 days, 13 hours and 42 minutes, following a route from the Brittany Coast in northwest France around the capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn before crossing an imaginary line drawn from lighthouses on Ushant Island in France and Cornwall, in the southwest of England.

The Spindrift 2 crew of 13 had battled to close the gap between it and the record holder to 266 miles.

But the weather dashed hopes of further improvement.

“There are storms forecast in the area around Ushant, with severe wind and waves over ten metres high,” Guichard said, adding that the safety of the crew and the boat “remain my priority”.

The crew aimed to cross the finish line but without any thought of claiming the Jules Verne trophy.

The 47-year-old Bertarelli is the sister of Ernesto Bertarelli and together with him she inherited Serono, a biotech company that was sold to pharmacy giant Merck in 2007.

The family ranks among the wealthiest in Switzerland and the world.

Ernesto Bertarelli gained fame as head of the Alinghi syndicate that won the America’s Cup yacht race in 2003 and 2007.

But Dona has proved herself no slouch as a sailor either, having won the 2010 Bol d’Or Mirabaud race on Lake Geneva, becoming the first female skipper to do so.

Her team Spindrift Racing won the Rolex Fastnet in 2013 when the team also broke the record for the America Route of Discovery, which traces a route taken by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

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