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Geronimo sets sail

Geronimo is 34 metres (110 feet) long and 22 metres (72 feet) wide
Geronimo is 34 metres (110 feet) long and 22 metres (72 feet) wide

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USHANT, France -- The giant trimaran Geronimo has begun an attempt on the non-stop round-the-world Jules Verne Trophy record.

Geronimo crossed the startline between Ushant, France and the Lizard Point early on Saturday morning.

Olivier de Kersauson and his 10 crew must cross the line again by 11:36:33 GMT on 16 March if they are to beat the record of 64 days, 8 hours, 37 minutes and 24 seconds set by Bruno Peyron on the maxi catamaran Orange in May 2002.

It is the third attempt by Geronimo, which held the record in 1997.

Officials from the World Sailing Speed Record Council started their stopwatches from the Créac'h lighthouse, specially opened for the occasion by the French Navy.

"We're very happy to get underway, because we've been waiting for a long time... Given that we're absolutely ready for this and the weather windows seem likely to stay open until March, we're not under any pressure. We can give it a try and even come back if we need to," de Kersauson said.

Geronimo's course for the Equator will be more westerly than usual, to avoid the oil slicks released by the sunken tanker Prestige.

Briton Ellen MacArthur, who believes that a record of under 60 days is possible, is waiting to set off in an attempt to break the record.

She will sail Orange, renamed Kingfisher 2, in her attempt.

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