Cats Across the Atlantic

Madcap sailors have crossed the Atlantic in small beach catamarans. Read about their adventures.

Date Trip Crew Time Information  crew
2008 Dakar - Guadeloupe Vittorio Malingri 13d 17h 48m 20’ catamaran 1
2007 Dakar - Guadeloupe Benoît Lequin & Pierre-Yves Moreau 11d 11h 25m 20’ catamaran, WSSRC Ratified Passage Record for the "Dakar-Guadeloupe" route 2
2007 Gran Canaria - Guadeloupe Matteo Miceli 14d 17h 52m 20’ catamaran, WSSRC Performance Certificate #24 "Las Palmas to Guadeloupe singlehanded" 1
2005 Dakar - Guadeloupe Andrea Gancia & Matteo Miceli 13d 13h 58m 20’ catamaran 2
2004 Madeira - Guadeloupe Jean-François Pellet 25d 20’ catamaran 1
2002 Canary Islands - Guadeloupe Alessandro Di Benedetto 28d 11h 36m 20’ catamaran, WSSRC Performance Certificate #11 "First singlehanded 20ft Sport Catamaran. Las Palmas to Guadeloupe" 1
1999 Dakar - Guadeloupe Hans Bouscholte & Gerard Navarin 15d 2h 20’ catamaran 2
1993 Dakar - Guadeloupe Jean-François Pellet & François Picot 21d 6h 18’ catamaran 2
1992 Canary Island - Cape Verde - Martinique Federico Di Benedetto & Alessandro Di Benedetto 23d 21’ catamaran 2
1986 Canary Islands - Guadeloupe Laurent Bourgnon & Fred Giraldi 21d 18’ catamaran 2
1986 Dakar – Guadeloupe Daniel Pradel & Tony Laurent 18d 22h 18’ catamaran
First beach cat transatlantic

Tony Laurent and Daniel Prada
Across the Atlantic on an Open Hobie 18 Catamaran
October 1986

The following is reprinted from Hobie Hotline  (The Hobie Cat magazine, no longer published)
May/June 1987

Editor's Note: The HOBIE HOTLINE is printing the following story for two reasons. First, it is a remarkable adventure, one of the most incredible journeys ever attempted on a Hobie Cat and we would be remiss by not including it. We hope you enjoy it and thrill with the sailors and their amazing achievement, a milestone in ocean crossings.

Secondly, it is also a warning. Hobie Cat and the HOTLINE do not endorse offshore Hobie sailing. Hobie Cats were made to sail within sight of land whether in the ocean or on a lake. Some specially controlled events such as the Hog's Breath 1000 include offshore sailing, but the safety measures are extraordinary. Tony Laurent, profiled in the January/February 1987 issue, is one of the most experienced Hobie sailors in the world. Daniel Pradel is a seasoned French sailor and veteran of many races, including a lot of Hobie sailing experience. The two men thought they were prepared. We hope others who may be planning such adventures take note.


By Noelle Duck

Both passionate sailors had already gathered in victories and trophies. But they dreamed of the impossible: traversing the Atlantic Ocean from Dakar, Senegal on Africa’s west coast, to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe, part of the French Antilles in the Caribbean. An Atlantic crossing is always a touch and go affair in a sailboat, but Tony Laurent and Daniel Pradel were going to try the journey on a Hobie 18 Magnum. They left Dakar on November 12, 1986 at 8:30 in the morning. On a peaceful, windy Sunday 18 days later, a local sailor, Mr. Guegen, was doing some chores on his boat in the Basse Terre Marina on Guadeloupe when he spotted two exhausted sailors gliding into port. The impending arrival of the team had been announced by French Overseas Radio, so Guegen knew who the two were.

"You want some help?" he asked with concern. ''We’re bloody hungry." was the weak reply. With that exchange, the two sailors had completed what many thought to be impossible. They had traversed the Atlantic on an open, 18-foot catamaran. But the price they paid was great. Laurent and Pradel had often thought about crossing the Atlantic on a Hobie Cat separately Then, one July night, Laurent told Pradel he had a "crazy project" to talk about. Pradel replied that he, too, had been thinking of something crazy After deciding who was to speak first, only two words were said: "Atlantic Ocean." They decided on late autumn and chose the course from Senegal to the French West Indies, a route that had the reputation of being "easy," a route American slave ships travelled in the 17th and 18th centuries because fresh trade winds and calm waters made the going fast and uneventful. "Once you have passed the Cape Verde Islands, you'll see that the sea becomes peaceful and that it will rock you to your destination," said their friends. By the time Pradel and Laurent were making final preparations on their boat, which rested on the beach of N'Gor at Dakar, they were dreaming of the sweet regularity of the trades, still mild at this time of year, that were to push them all the way to Guadeloupe.

On the beach at the Meridien Hotel of N'Gor, the Fujicolor, as the boat had been christened in honor of the trek's chief sponsor, had become a major attraction. The crossbars had been set, the wings had been placed and the double-layer trampoline, which would sandwich the bag of plastic-coated maps, was stretched between the hulls. They raised the mast, fixed the shrouds and backstays and tied the ARGOS beacon, an emergency locator, to the back of the trampoline. They fixed an inflatable mattress across the boat along with a plastic sheet to be used for the protection of the sailor at rest. As they readied themselves, tourists snapped photos and asked dozens of questions. Most centred on the Seagold desalinator the pair had bought from Pierre Fehlmann, the winner on uncorrected time, of the last Around the World race. They explained that the machine could produce six liters of fresh water in only one hour by pumping sea water through it.

At 8:30 on the morning of November 12, Laurent and Pradel arrived at their boat and were greeted by the staff and guests of the Meridien. They stuffed their water tight bags with food and placed them in the hulls. The food included a high-energy mix of cereals, dry fruit, cream and honey; bags of a protein drink; some cheese, a Moroccan rice dish called couscous, a  little bread, butter and even some red wine. The sextant, the two VHF radios in plastic cases, the cigarettes and lighters and other equipment were placed in another bag and attached to the trampoline opposite the inflatable mattress. Laurent and Pradel donned their equipment slowly and quietly to the sound of the beating waves. Polar underwear, dry suits with neoprene necks, ankles and wrists, were soon snug. Next, they slipped into their trapeze harnesses, life vests and neoprene boots and their sunglasses and gloves. Pradel asked for someone to help carry the boat to the water and 20 people volunteered, lifting the cat on their shoulders and walking down the beach in a slow procession. Just when the hulls touched the water, a fishing boat began to leave. It would show them the way through the reef.

The team waved a rapid au revoir and jumped aboard. Laurent took the tiller; Pradel sheeted in. They were gone.

 "The third night we passed the Cape Verde Islands," relates Laurent, "and we realized that our project was going to be much more difficult than we had thought. I began to understand that it would be torture, but it was impossible to go back. The sea was incredibly strong and there was no chance of returning. But then, we had never even thought about abandoning. When we left the beach at N'Gor, the sea immediately became very strong. We met strong winds, high, but negotiable waves and heavy swells caused by the north wind. During the first night, the waves came from all directions. Steering was difficult. The night was so black that we could not see the bows three meters in front of us. A lot of concentration was required to feel from where the next weird wave would arrive. We saw a cargo ship far away and I directed the beam  of my flashlight onto the sail. This was the only boat we were to see during the entire passage. Aside from that ship we saw an old drifting can; that's it.

 "We tried everything to sleep," says Laurent. "We changed the position of the mattress so that we could put our heads under the shelter. Impossible. After three nights we were so fatigued that we fell asleep in spite of everything but we were at the extreme limit of exhaustion. Each time a wave came over, the one at rest was drowned under a meter of water. This lasted several seconds. At the end of the first week, we got upright without really waking up and held onto the shrouds, searching for air. Even between the waves, we had the feeling of being in a drum with people beating on it.

The heavily loaded trampoline was so near to the water surface that the sea was beating from above and below with incredible power. Meanwhile, followers in France and in Guadeloupe followed the progress of the boat by tracking the ARGOS signal sent out by the team's beacon. Supporters estimated their speed at seven knots, slow for the Hobie l8 and two seasoned sailors.  What they discovered was that a week of heavy storm activity in the North Atlantic was driving large swells into the small catamaran nearly 2,000 miles away. "in waves that never seemed to end, we passed a sort of tropical tornado," says Laurent. "it was a black cloud like ink above a white column that rose above the sea. When night came, I asked Daniel not to sleep. The first wave ran toward us, and I've never seen a bigger one. It had to have been more than ten meters. The wind  increased to 60 knots and we hauled down all the sails. Despite that, the boat was surfing like crazy. I couldn't control it anymore. When we saw this, we just said 'Looks like this will be the toughest night.' "During the storm a wave struck and I got up but was still under water. In fact, the whole boat was under two meters of water for about ten seconds. When I emerged, I  shouted at Daniel but got nothing. I thought he was swept away! But the noise ,, was so intense that even though he was I just a few feet away from me, he couldn't hear. Even he, on top of the Magnum I wings, had a hard time keeping his head above water. After that, when it would happen again, our only check was OK?' and when the other replied OK,' one could go back to sleep. The next day, there was no wind at all, but the waves were still there. In the morning I could not wake Daniel. He was dreaming of having breakfast on the terrace of a bistro at Toulon.

Two Hundred Pumps for One Glass of Water

We talked a lot about food," continues Laurent. "We were always hungry. Then we discovered another problem: thirst. Pumping the desalinator took superhuman efforts. On the beach at N'Gor, we described to our fans what the Seagold could do. While it was true that the water was good, Daniel had to pump 200 times to squeeze the equivalent of one glass of water out of it. Each time, we had to take the daggerboard out of the windward hull, install the filter in the daggerboard case, put the outlet tube into the mouth of the one to drink, then start pumping. We had two glasses of water per day, one in the morning and one in the evening and that amounted to 800 pump strokes. On top of that we had to use fresh water to dissolve the Substi 500, a highly enriched protein powder. We had five bags a day of that. "Daniel pumped for the whole passage. I tried it once but it was too tough for me and I told him I was going to give up drinking. He waited several hours. I gritted my teeth and he finally went on passing me the tube."

 But while Pradel was left to do most of the water pumping, Laurent tackled the tough job of driving the boat. "We were always in danger of capsizing even when we reefed the main and rolled the jib," says Pradel. "That would have been a catastrophe; our boat was overloaded with 100 kilos of tools, equipment, food and instruments. Even without the load we had some difficulties in our righting tests in the smooth waters of the Bay of Hyeres in France. There were a couple of times in the Atlantic when we both thought "This is the end."

 Laurent agrees that the sea had become their enemy. "From the beginning, we encountered only a stormy, disordered sea that pushed the boat in all directions. The noise was very loud and the absence of any rhythm prevented us from getting accustomed to it. The nights were the toughest moments. When I saw twilight arrive at about six, it was like a nightmare repeating itself. I was not keen to go through what I did the night before. Daniel, who needs 12 hours of sleep a day on land, whereas I need very few, was better off during the nights. We learned a lot from each other. Because of our spirit for survival, we never lost hope.

"When I saw Daniel looking wild after he missed an object, could not co-ordinate his movements, did not understand what I was telling him, or when he had problems moving on the trampoline, I reduced the speed of the boat and waited for him to come back to reality. 'At the beginning we were both sea sick. He was a little worse off than me; I had a fixed scopoderm behind my ear-a gadget that proved pretty effective. Daniel let me steer and that reduced the sickness since I had to concentrate on things other than the nausea. He stayed on the trampoline operating the desalinator, preparing the meals, controlling the sails. He took care of me. I tried to do the same for him, so I steered hours and hours as best I could."    

Food also presented unexpected problems for the pair. According to Laurent,  both men were reluctant to eat the food concentrates from the tubes and the slabs of high energy cereal mix. Still, says Laurent, ‘After four days on the water, our revulsion against the food out of the tubes was gone, but it was dangerous preparing it. We first had to find the pliers in the bag attached to the trampoline. When we opened the bag, the waves flooded it with water. When we closed it again, we had to open the hull covers - between waves and had to find the food. Then we had to close the hulls, put the pliers back and finally pump the water for the Substi 500. We had three flavors: coffee, vegetable and vanilla. We never had enough water, so the drinks were always too strong and made us nauseous, although the vanilla flavor wasn't too bad.

"If you had the chance to grab one, the feast began. "Even dissolving the food was a problem. We had shakers with us with screw-on covers and we had glued straps to them, but they were torn off despite the reputation of the glue we had used. I lost one after the other, washed away by the waves while we ate and when we lost the last one, it was a catastrophe. Fortunately, Daniel had a stroke of genius. We took the case of a flashlight (which was supposedly waterproof but failed anyway) and poured the powder and water into that. We stirred with our fingers and ate. After a few minutes, we could actually feel the energy circulating through our bodies." 

But this renewed energy wasn't enough. In fact, the two were only taking in about 500 calories a day. Malnutrition, exhaustion and constant submersion in salt water all worked against them. Every time a small cut, scrape or abrasion scarred their skin, salt water was able to enter. Soon it was infected. The constant exposure to salt water led to ulcers on ankles, feet and hands that also became infected.  "Physically, our biggest problem was the fact that we were just always soaked," says Laurent. "Everything except our watches and the Maglite was inundated.

After two days, we tried the VHF radios. They were already rusty. One day after the start, Daniel tried to fetch a cigarette, but a steep wave arrived at the same moment he opened the bag and flooded the lighters. This wasn't a big tragedy since the next day, a wave washed all our cigarettes overboard anyway. "When we each took our turn to sleep on the trampoline, we would take off our KWay overalls from Helly-Hansen - which were quite practical with their zippers everywhere, then our polar underwear, and we would wring out the water. When we pulled them on again, we thought it was sheer luxury. We had abandoned the dry suits long before because it was impossible to wear neoprene in such conditions; our ankles and wrists would just balloon. Our boots were also thrown over board because the volume of our feet had doubled and the neoprene prevented our skin from breathing. Our feet became covered with ulcers which proved worse than ankles, there was doubt that his feet could be saved. Five days later back in France, a skin graft was successful and his feet began to heal.

 Laurent, although not as severely burned, was also racked with pain. His feeling had come back as well. He did however, manage a breakfast consisting of a steak, tomatoes, two bowls of cornflakes with lots of sugar, six yogurts, a complete camembert cheese, four slices of bread and butter, croissants, other French breakfast  cakes and a platter of fruit.

Still, he could not move his limbs without extreme pain  and as the blood continued to return, the pain increased. Unfortunately for Laurent, his sailing idol, Mike Birch who had participated in the Route de Rhum race and who had helped plot their positions during the final days with his ARGOS beacon, refused to come to the Meridien Hotel at Saint Francois, to salute them. "To shake hands with him would help me more than all this medicine," said Laurent. Still, congratulatory letters, telegrams and phone calls from Europe and North America poured in by the dozens. Fujicolor waited calmly on the beach, almost mocking the sailors. It was untouched by the ordeal. Nothing was broken and it exhibited very little wear despite the bashing. Even the sails, prepared by Neil Pryde in the colors of the French and Australian flags, were in excellent condition.

Sailors even took the boat out to play in the surf while Laurent and Pradel were attempting to recover.  The two drew several lessons from their crossing The first, according to Laurent, is that "Nobody should ever try a crazy thing like that; if we had known how tough it would be, we never would have started." The second was the mutual respect needed for a crew, or anyone, to survive a long ordeal. "When I think of Daniel clinging to the trampoline, his hands and feet in the sea water. During the last few days, I couldn't prevent myself from trembling and I hid myself when I had to vomit after seeing Daniel's feet.

"Finally, on the night of Saturday, December 6, we got the feeling that we were nearing land. We could smell flowers and trees. We could see lights and cliffs. It was La Dominique, but we did not know that yet. We just spent the night on the leeward side of the island enjoying the stillness. We were very happy. It was the end and we knew that we had succeeded although we didn't know exactly where we were because it was next to impossible to tell our position with the sextant; we were too low on the water, and we bounced around too much. Finally, on Sunday morning, we arrived in Guadeloupe.

When the two sailed into the marina, it turned out that they needed a lot more help than food alone could provide. They had to be carried to a small restaurant, the Royal, where a doctor was summoned to apply first aid to their wounds while they stuffed themselves with their first full meal since the beginning of their journey. Pradel's feet, which had seldom been atop  the wings and were always submerged in salt water, were just tattered flesh. The skin was torn away over most of their surface.

Laurent had deep wounds and scars over his butt and thighs as well as craters on his feet a millimetre deep. Both men's hands were covered with wounds that had crusted and would not heal. Each cut, which never had a chance to dry and heal properly, was infected. Their circulation suffered the effects of blockage due to sitting and crouching in one position for hours on end and their hips and knees were paralyzed. Every movement brought tears to their eyes, but the worst wasn't over. They were almost in a state of shock. With their eyes glazed and the circulation problems preventing any feeling in their lower extremities, the pain was not nearly a horrible state, I remember that never as bad as it would become. Later in the evening of their first day on land, Pradel was wheeled to a restaurant to have dinner with friends while Laurent slept in his hotel room. Pradel's meal consisted of two large steaks, a plate of vegetables, noodles and six large pieces of cake. Then he too retired for the evening.

 The next day, both men could barely move. Pradel, despite being given tranquilizers, was tortured by the dressings on his feet, which began to come back to life during the night. Tears welled in his eyes for three hours. Groggy, he kept asking for someone to help him. Finally, when he managed to fall asleep, he felt himself aboard the boat, unable to stop the rolling movement or the hammering of the waves in his ears. In his dream he stretched his hand for a tool and some food only to have the waves wash them away. With infected third degree burns over his feet and during the whole trip did he once complain."

 Pradel also appreciated Laurent. "Tony is a much better driver than I am. I don't know anybody else who's able to steer 18 hours a day in such high, vicious waves." Finally, the two learned that even if the boat, rigging and the sails were able to stand up to the punishment, the critical points such as clothing and survival equipment need a lot more preparation and careful thought. Improvements need to be made.

 Naturally, the first few days after landing, both said they would never try such a feat again. But Pradel, who is mounting a Tornado effort for the 1988 Olympics, began to state that he wanted to sail in the 1987 single-hand Figaro race and Laurent began to talk of racing Formula 40 catamarans in offshore grand prix events.   Despite their injuries, the sea had not lost it's allure.

From Boating OZ, January 27, 1999 

Whitsunday local says: "Can't be that lucky twice."

By Dan Van Blarcom in Airlie Beach
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean is probably a fairly humdrum experience these days with most people flying. Travelling by sea is not as big as it once was during the Titanic days and even she had problems. But news that two sailors are sailing a 19-foot catamaran across the Atlantic to break a record brought back memories for one Whitsunday local. Tony Laurent of Airlie Beach not only sailed the Atlantic - he did it on a smaller boat, a Hobie Cat 18. He also holds the record of 18 days, 22 hours.

"I wish them well, poor buggers. I would never do it again, not for a million dollars." Tony told On the Waterfront this week.

"When Frenchman Daniel Pradel and I sailed across the Atlantic in 1986 it was not to beat a record, as nobody had done it before." The current attempt by Belgian Hans Bouschotte and Gerard Navarin sailed from Dakar in West Africa aiming to come ashore at Guadeloupe in the West Indies in less than the eighteen-day record. They currently are in a light wind area, have only averaged just over 150 nautical miles per day, and have a leak in one hull that they have to stop and pump out. They haven't slept since the start and are getting very tired. "When we sailed we were still in regatta mode. We sailed 343 miles on day three to average over 14 knots." Said Mr Laurent.

"We had a storm and lost most of our equipment. The surface of the water was 'smoking' from the wind. We had a reefing system so we could reduce sail but you could not sleep for more than ten minutes. Sleeping tied to the mast is not very restful."

"We had an Argos satellite beacon so our base knew where we were but we only had a plastic sextant on board and weren't sure of our longitude. Near the end, we were hallucinating. Daniel woke me up saying "something is out there" as he pointed out into the pitch-black darkness. We couldn't see anything for a long time, then we saw a light."

"When it got light we could see an island. We could have been anywhere between Brazil and Florida. We were surfing down a big wave when we saw three fishermen in a small boat. They were somewhat startled as we flew past asking directions to Guadeloupe. "That way" they pointed. "When we got ashore we couldn't walk. I had lost 15 kilos and Daniel 17 kilos during the 18-day crossing. The soy based food powder we had was terrible. The coffee-flavoured powder tasted nothing like coffee and the veggie powder tasted like spew. It is now used for weight reduction." "The salt water really gets to you. Daniel had a long stay in hospital afterwards and had to have skin grafts. During the last days, we even drank some seawater, as we couldn't operate the watermaker. Our skin was falling off. Our finger nails had fallen out and you could push your finger into the salt water sores."

"We were very lucky. We lost much of our gear in the rough conditions. It was an absolute lesson in survival. I learned of the capacity of the human mind. Your body is giving out and your mind is driving you, that's what makes you survive. Two Brazilians died trying to do the crossing. We were in bad shape when we went ashore and had to be helped. We couldn't walk and were in a native village. They were great. A friend came down from the main port and brought us a case of Foster's." Would this former wool classer from Goondiwindi leave his Airlie Beach travel agency to defend his record?

"No. You can't be that lucky - twice. I am glad I did it if just for the deep appreciation I gained of how the mind works under duress. I think there is something that resides in all of us that makes us survivors, it is there 'till we need it. You get pretty obsessive with only ten minutes of sleep once and awhile. Your mind takes over." "Considering that it started as a challenge between two of us sitting in a restaurant one night having a drink, it didn't turn out too bad. What set it off was saying 'let's do it and talk about it later.' But I haven't talked about it that much. It was something I've done. I'm just as proud of my sailing with my wife Lolita. Together we have won 16 European and national titles." "We didn't do it for a record. We did it because it hadn't been done before. It takes heart and balls. I sailed around the world in 77 days on Lyonnaise des Eaux for the Jules Verne Trophy. Then they renamed the boat Sport Elect and did it in 71 days."

"I think I'll just stay here in Airlie Beach, but then my friend Terry Travers has just sailed his catamaran Excess to Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica. Last time I talked to him, he said he had an idea for a sail to stay cool."


Hans Bouscholte and Gerard Navarin
Across the Atlantic on a Nacra 19
January 1999

January 1999 After one year of extensive preparation, Dutchman Hans Bouscholte will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean in an open 19 foot Nacra Inter catamaran, accompanied by Frenchman Gerard Navarin. Starting in mid January, 1999, from Dakar, Senegal, they hope to reach the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, without assistance, in less than 18 days and 22 hours, and so beating the current world record.  The idea to cross the Atlantic with an open catamaran was born in 1986, when two attempts took place. The first attempt, still unbeaten after 12 years, was by Frenchman Daniel Pradel and Australian Tony Laurent who crossed the Atlantic from Senegal to Guadeloupe with a Hobie 18. They arrived in Guadeloupe after 18 days and 22 hours, exhausted, sick, dehydrated and unable to walk.  The same year another attempt was made by Frenchmen Laurent Bourgnon (nowadays skipper of the 60-ft trimaran 'Primagaz', winner of the last Route du Rhum) and Frederic Geraldi. They needed two more days for the crossing, ending up in hospital where they were treated for severe sunburn and dehydration.  Bouscholte's boat is a custom made, 19-ft Nacra Inter, fitted with two carbon wings, a carbon mast and is unsinkable through the construction of separate chambers in the hulls. 

22 January 1999 Crowds of over hundred people waved goodbye to Hans Bouscholte and Gerard Navarin as they set off for the transatlantic crossing from Dakar to Guadeloupe. Hopefully on their way to the world record: crossing the Atlantic Ocean in less than 18 days and 22 hours ... in an open 19 foot catamaran, without assistance. The red 19 FOOT NACRA was launched into almost perfect conditions. A twenty knot northeasterly wind took the pair towards the starting line, just off the Island of Goree (the former slave island off the African coast). The official start time of 12.34 GMT was recorded by Commandant De Baelman, commander of the French troops in Senegal, and will be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council. If all goes well, the team hopes to break the world record set in 1986 by Frenchman Daniel Pradel and Australian Tony Laurent, by anything up to three days. Circumstances permitting, Bouscholte will have contact with the press centre in Holland via the satellite telephone once a day.

28 January 1999 On Monday, January, 22, Danish offshore racing veteran Hans Bouscholte and his French crewman Gerard Navarin, who currently holds the world speed-sailing record, set out from Dakar, Senegal to Guadeloupe in their extreme transatlantic record attempt aboard a 19-foot, custom Nacra beach cat. At the Thursday morning position report, after six days at sea, they were suffering from leaking hulls and physical injuries. Two days into their attempt to break the 18-day, 22-hour record set in 1986 by Frenchman Daniel Pradel and Australian Tony Laurent with a Hobie 18, Bouscholte and Navarin reported hitting a submerged object, and they are now experiencing significant leakage into both hulls. 

"When we hit the object, both hulls were damaged in front," reported Bouscholte to his press office on Wednesday. "After about 12 hours sailing, the hulls are filled with 100 liters water. which requires one hour of hard work with the manual pump to get rid of it." 

Water in their hulls, however, may not be the worst of their problems. The elements--saltwater, equatorial sun, and wind--already are wreaking havoc on their bodies. "We've started to have wounds on our hands, arms, feet, and face, which is quite painful," said Bouscholte. "We expected to have skin problems, but not so soon after the start." 

In '86, Laurent Bourgnon and Frederic Geraldi attempted a similar crossing, but after falling two days shy of Pradel and Laurent's mark, found themselves in the hospital where they were treated for severe sunburn. Pradel and Laurent, too, arrived in Guadeloupe fully exhausted, sick, dehydrated and unable to walk.  From Grand Prix Sailor Feb 6-

Atlantic Crossing Record Dutchman Hans Bouscholte and Frenchman Gerard Navarin have broken the record aboard their open 19 foot Nacra Inter catamaran. The record now stands at 15 days, 00 hours, 26 minutes. This beats the record set in 1986 by Frenchman Daniel Pradel and Australian Tony Laurent by over 3 days. 

29 January 1999 "The boat hit an object very early in the voyage that impacted both daggerboards and kicked up both rudders. There was no apparent bow impact. The port hull is leaking more than the starboard. The wind is from the starboard stern quarter. The waves I believe are a beam. The boards were in a 1/2 up position at the time of impact. The polyester sea going resin is almost used up. They sealed the 4" ports behind the rear beam and the daggerboard areas with it. The bulkheads are allowing water to flow the entire distance of the hull. The hose they have on the bilge pump is too short to be used as a siphon. They have access to the daggerboard wells through the center hatches. They have infected blisters from pumping for long periods of time to get the water out. They are taking antibiotics for the infection. "I have suggested the following based on my discussions the previous day with Roy Seaman (Worrell GURU), Pete Melvin (boat's designer), and Jack Young (boat's builder), and other highly experienced sailors: To drain the hulls by removing the stern plugs and sailing at an angle with the sterns down. If the boat is moving, this will allow the hulls to drain without the extensive efforts previously expended on dropping the sails and pumping out with a manual bilge pump. There are NO SPARE PLUGS on the boat so I need ideas on how to plug the hulls should they drop one in this effort. They have duct tape and some other simple objects on board. Again, the leak rate is 100 litres every 12 hours. "My choice at this time (although I have not spoken with them yet) would be to alert the Long Range Rescue Operations Center at the US Air Force base in New York (details to follow) and apprise them of the situation. It is best to at least allow them to begin strategizing an effort should one become necessary."

1 February 1999 It has been a long and weary night for Hans Bouscholte and Gerard Navarin. "We had a lot of wind, so again we weren't able to get some sleep,' said an extremely tired Bouscholte on the phone. His physical situation didn't change over night. He still can't use his hands. "And besides, the whole thing starts to wear us out mentally as well,' he added. 'All day and all night we find ourselves soaked in the water. Just when I start falling asleep: BAM! Another wave in your face. It's a nightmare. Very hard to keep up like this!' It looks like this adventure is starting to be not just physically demanding but mentally as well. The lack of sleep starts paying its price.

2 February 1999 Today, they only had 800 miles to go! Wednesday and Thursday are going to be tough. Very strong winds and high waves will lead the men towards the finish line in Guadeloupe. Tuesday, the wind increases rapidly to force 5 (17 - 21 knots) in the afternoon and the evening. Wind direction is still Northeasterly. On Wednesday and Thursday the wind gets even stronger, force 6, from time to time force 7 Beaufort. Apart from this strong breeze to near gale force winds, the waves increase in height coming from the North. Maximum wave heights are expected to be around 3.5 meters on Thursday. 

3 February 1999 During today the wind speed increases some more and reaches a good force 6 (22-27 knots) tonight, with occasionally force 7 (28-33 knots). Fortunately the wave heights do not increase much more and remain today between 3.5 and 4 meters from the north. Nearly perfect conditions to welcome Hans and Gerard!

4 February 1999 After the passage of a weak cold front the wind increased again last night to wind force 6 (22-27 knots), occasionally force 7 (28-33 knots). The wind direction was northeast, while the waves came from northerly directions with wave heights reaching 3.5-4 meters on average. Today, during daylight, the wind decreases a bit, but tonight it will regain its strength again to the same force as last night, Beaufort 6-7. With less than 300 miles to go, the estimated time of arrival still remains Friday evening, local time (Guadeloupe), around sunset.

5 February 1999 The team is experiencing heavy weather right now. They have 12-foot waves and wind force 6 to 7. But due to the waves coming in from abeam the situation is getting even more difficult. Since the last "sched" the team traveled 14 miles. The situation right now is that the weather doesn't get any better in the near future although the waves do get lower. due to the weather communication with the team was impossible so at the time it remains a mystery how they are. But no EPIRB signals have been received so they are still sailing. ETA still is: Noon February 6 -- three days under the record.

6 February 1999 At 1500 hours and 58 seconds GMT February 6th 1999, Hans Bouscholte and Gerard Navarin crossed the finish line in Guadeloupe making the record (from Dakar to Guadeloupe in a 19-foot open Inter catamaran ) -- 15 days 2 hours 26 minutes. Tired, but in good spirits the sailors went after a few interviews and photos straight to Hospital to repair the deep wounds to the hands which they have suffered due to being constantly wet. Apart from antibiotics and applying new dressing there is nothing that few days sleep won't fix.

Within 2 hours the sailors were sipping cocktails with family, friends and media. The pair seem to have survived a lot better than the previous record holders, Daniel Pradel and Tony Laurent, who made the same crossing in 18 days and 22 Minutes in during 1986. 'It hasn't been easy but we made it! Everything went well between Gerard and myself. We worked great as a team,' Bouscholte said shortly after their arrival. 'The worst part of the trip was the storm which felt like it was never going to end. At one point we just held onto each other for hours, huddled up underneath the spinnaker. We had no control over the boat and we were at the mercy of the sea. We were so lucky. It would have only take one wave hitting us at the wrong angle and the boat would have flipped. We would have never got it upright again in those conditions' Navarin said, with the images of the nightmare still reflecting in his eyes. It was determination which kept us going'.

They never thought about pushing the EPIRB. In the last 4 days they spoke of only having one hours sleep. It was the excitement of being ashore and meeting everybody that has kept the heroes standing. Bouscholte didn't want to go to sleep early. It's a waste to be laying in bed right now, when we are standing amongst great people in these beautiful surroundings. We are so happy to be here. We are alive and what's more: we have broken the world record!'