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Totally Round Trip Good luck and a fast boat enabled Steve Fossett to break the speed record for circumnavigation

April 12, 2004
April 12, 2004

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April 12, 2004

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Totally Round Trip Good luck and a fast boat enabled Steve Fossett to break the speed record for circumnavigation

When millionaire options trader Steve Fossett learned to race a
sailboat, he did so not on a 14-foot dinghy but on one of the
world's fastest boats, Lakota, a 63-foot trimaran. Fossett has
never been overly cautious. "It's not completely
knuckleheadedness, it's calculated," says boat designer Gino
Morrelli. "For him, sailing isn't necessarily a passion, it's a
goal."

This is an article from the April 12, 2004 issue Original Layout

When Fossett and his 12-man crew departed Isle d'Ouessant off the
coast of France in February aboard Cheyenne, a sleek catamaran
with 125-foot carbon fiber hulls, his goal was simple: to break
the around-the-world record. Last Monday he returned to Isle
d'Ouessant 58 days, 9 hours and 32 minutes after he left, nearly
six days ahead of the old mark, set by French sailor Bruno Peyron
in 2002.

The 59-year-old Fossett also holds numerous world records in
gliding, flying and hot air ballooning. (In 2002 he became the
first man to fly solo around the world in a hot air balloon.) He
succeeded on his most recent quest because he had a good
crew--and some good luck. After sailing south from France,
Cheyenne reached the often unforgiving Southern Ocean, where
waves that can reach 40 feet hit only 20 and winds that can gust
to more than 60 knots peaked at 40. After a difficult approach to
Cape Horn and a successful passage between the Horn and
Antarctica, Cheyenne headed back north, skirting a hurricane off
Brazil and then getting an extra push from the storm's outer
winds.

Fossett also avoided a host of potential problems he had little
control over. "A broken fitting, a stray whale, electric failure,
a worn sail, so many things could bring this roller coaster ride
to a sudden halt," watch captain Dave Scully wrote on Day 25,
1,300 miles south of Australia. Just last week a pin slipped from
its rigging--"The fate of the trip has been hanging by a mere 25
mm of broken bearing," noted a crew member--but the bearing was
repaired and the catamaran caught a brisk trade wind on its home
leg. Last Saturday, wrote Scully, Cheyenne was "buffet[ing]
through the moderate swell like a bullet train through a pile of
teddy bears."

Fossett now turns his attention to yet another feat of
endurance--one that will tax his will but not his wallet. On
April 25, three days after his 60th birthday, he plans to run the
Big Sur International Marathon.

--Nancy Ramsey

TWO COLOR PHOTOS: CLAIRE BAILEY/KOS PICTURE/DPPIWINDED Fossett (above) was able to use a hurricane to hisadvantage.