Condor Vitesse is a High Speed Craft that has been operated by Condor Ferries between 1998 and 2014, mainly on the Poole - Channel Islands service.
|HSC Condor Vitesse (1998 - 2015)|
|Shipyard||Incat, Hobart, Tasmania|
|Cost (1998)||£23 millions|
Poole - Channel Islands - Saint-Malo (2001 - 2012)
Weymouth - Channel Islands - Saint-Malo (1998 - 2000)
Weimouth - Channel Islands (2013 - 2014)
Poole - Cherbourg-en-Cotentin (2001 - 2012)
|Port of Registry||Nassau (BHS)|
|Gross Tonnage||5,005 GT|
|Engines||4 engines Ruston 20RK270|
|Propulsion||4 waterjets Lips LJ145D|
|Transmission||4 gearboxes CVT Renk ASL60|
|Power||4 x 7,080 kW (@1,030 rpm)|
|Maximum Speed||48 knots max - 40 knots (service)|
|Fuel & Consumption||approx. 60l/min @ 1,030 rpm|
|Passengers & Cargo|
|Passengers||741 passengers and 30 crew|
|Garage||Up to 200 cars or a combination of 4 coaches and cars|
In the late 90s, International Catamarans, known as Incat, built four 86m-long High Speed Catamarans, although they have not been ordered by any operator. Thus, Incat 044 was launched in 1997. Once completed, she was sent to Europe and offered for charter. Laid up in Portland in July 1997, she was then sent to Arhus, whilst no operator seemed to be interested in the ship at the time.
In late-1997, Condor Ferries announced that the company would launch a Saint-Malo – Guernsey – Weymouth service the following summer, using Condor 10. However, due to Condor 10 being already used by another operator, it decided to charter Incat 044.
Thus, Condor Ferries was delivered of Incat 044 for this service in early-1998. Incat 044 enabled Condor Ferries operating two sisterships on the England – Channel Islands service, offering alternative sailings to its customers in case of disruptions due to a ship’s failure. Thus, the marketed capacity of Incat 044 was decreased to 500 passengers and 90 cars in order to offer room for passengers impacted by Condor Express’ expected failures, and she often replaced her on the Poole service.
After having been painted, Incat 044 was introduced as Condor Vitesse on the Weymouth – Saint-Malo via Guernsey service in April 1998. She was later purchased from Incat by Condor Ferries.
During winter 1998-99, Condor Ferries found Condor Vitesse useless since Havelet was covering for weather-related cancellations (that would nonetheless affected Condor Vitesse as well) and Condor Express’ failures-related cancellations. Therefore, Condor Vitesse was chartered out to Tranz Rail, replacing Condor 10 among the fleet of this operator, for service in Tasmania as The Lynx. She then came back to Condor Ferries’ fleet for summer 1999 after having been repainted, before being sent to Tranz Rail the following winter. After winter 1999-2000, Condor VItesse has never been chartered out at Winters again, replacing at winters her sister when not being drydocked.
After weeks of negotiations, Brittany Ferries and Condor Ferries announced in early-2001 that they would operate a common daily summer-only joint service between Cherbourg-en-Cotentin and Poole between April and late-September each year. The agreement planned that Condor Vitesse would operate the service, crewed by Condor Ferries. Brittany Ferries renamed her Normandie Vitesse when marketing the service (and sometimes only Vitesse). Brittany Ferries’ logo was painted on her stern. On the first year of this service, Condor Vitesse carried twice more passengers than hoped. On afternoons, Condor Vitesse was operating for Condor Ferries a Saint-Malo – Poole service via the Channel Islands.
After summer 2012, Brittany Ferries announced that their partnership with Condor Ferries would be discontinued the following summer. Indeed, Brittany Ferries was in overcapacity on the Cherbourg-en-Cotentin – Poole service, and it preferred to operate services only using Barfleur and Cotentin. Then, Condor Vitesse only operated summer-only services from Poole and year-round services from Weymouth to the Channel Islands.
On 22nd March 2008, Condor Vitesse collided with the pier of Saint-Malo. Her hull was holed and she has to be repaired.
More serious, on 28th March 2011, whilst Condor Vitesse was sailing at 36 knots in the Minquiers, she collided with a fishing vessel and cut it in two. Condor Vitesse immediately stopped to recover the fishing men, but the captain of the ship, Claude Lesaulnier was lost at sea. On the other hand, Condor Vitesse only suffered from minor damages, and was able to berth in Saint-Helier following the incident without help. Condor Vitesse was then detained to enable the completion of an inquiry about the incident, that highlighted the lack of vigilance from its crew it foggy conditions, whereas the horn had not been used.
In 2012, to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Weymouth – Channel Islands route, Condor Vitesse was painted on her bow three coloured stripes, respectively Blue, Red and Yellow. However, following the end of the partnership with Brittany Ferries, Condor Ferries faced over-capacity on its routes and the company began looking for a bigger High Speed Craft that would replace both Condor Express and Condor Vitesse. Meanwhile, the Poole – Saint-Malo via the Channel Islands service was not renewed for summer 2013, replaced by connexion sailings.
In late-2013, Condor Ferries began negotiating with Austal, prior to the purchase of their Austal Hull 270, that was reaching Condor Ferries' needs, and that would replace both Condor Express and Condor Vitesse. In early-2014, Condor Ferries signed a new operating agreement with the Channel Islands’ governments, which is to last until 2024. This enabled Condor Ferries purchasing in August Austal Hull 270 for delivery in early-2015, replacing the previous catamarans on the Northern Routes.
On 14th January 2015, Condor Vitesse was sold to Greek operator Seajets for an undisclosed amount estimated at €4.5 millions. Sent in mid-February to the Falmouth shipyard to be unpainted, she set sail to Pirea on 09th March, arriving there on 14th.
Repainted, refurbished, overhauled and renamed Champion Jet 1, she was introduced in June 2015 on Seajet’s Pirea – Cyclades route. Before-summer, she also operates a Cyclades Islands – Heraklion service.