Jules Verne Trophy – With the Indian Ocean record from Cape Agulhas in South Africa to Cape Leeuwin in SW Australia under their belt, Francis Joyon and his gang are speeding towards the Pacific, which they should reach tomorrow. It took them less than five and a half days to cross the Indian Ocean, whereas before no one had managed to do this stretch in less than six days. On the twentieth day of sailing, aboard IDEC SPORT, the pace is just as fast, as they make their way towards the Pacific, which they should reach tomorrow (Saturday).
They swallowed a dose of whisky. Just to keep up the tradition. They didn’t manage to get much sleep last night. At the helm, they needed to be attentive. Early this morning, they learnt that they had grabbed the Indian record. They raised their hands in the air and spoke to their loyal supporters: “Yes, indeed, we’re very pleased, five days and eleven hours from Cape Agulhas to Leeuwin (from South Africa to Australia). It wasn’t looking that easy, as we were a bit slow at the start. So, when we learnt that, it was fantastic. It sends a shiver through you and our eyes are sparkling,” declared Alex Pella.
Never less than 35 knots, 800 miles regained
After regaining 800 miles in four days to get back on equal footing with the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy yesterday evening, IDEC SPORT has since lost some ground – 70 miles this lunchtime – but that is down to a question of geometry, as their virtual rival was heading south again. But they are still keeping up the pace on IDEC SPORT. They are fast, very fast with days of more than 750 miles. “Now, we’re doing 37, 39 knots… and to put it bluntly, we are sticking above 35 knots,” said Clément Surtel, who was clearly in great shape, extremely pleased to be speeding along on a trimaran expressing 100% of her potential.
Nothing scares them
Not quite as far down in the Furious Fifties, they are now at 51° south and reaching with the 30-knot northerly wind on the beam. They are ahead of the tropical low that they have been racing against for four days. Francis Joyon: “It was a bit difficult down in the south with the mist and icebergs, but that was necessary to shorten our route. So of course, we’re very pleased! The crew felt cold but nothing scared them. Now, we’re sailing at speed with the wind on the beam. We’re getting tons of water across the deck and there’s spray everywhere. The boat is going crazy. It’s not exactly comfortable, but we’ll be keeping this wind for another couple of days, which should allow us to continue rapidly.”
What next? “The weather isn’t very clear in the Pacific, but for the moment, we should catch up a lot of miles before getting to New Zealand,” explained the skipper of IDEC SPORT. The Catalan sailor, Alex Pella, summed up the situation like this: “Everything is going well on board. We have had some great days, one after the other on a straight line on the direct route that could have been drawn by a laser. It’s really enjoyable.”
That says it all really. Incidentally, during the radio link-up this morning, Francis Joyon explained that Bernard Stamm was suspended on a harness trying to make a slight adjustment to the wind turbine, which provides the power on board the boat. Acrobatics that have a purpose, but which involve getting very wet. “Between the real wind and our speed, there must be an apparent wind of about 50 knots out on deck,” guessed Francis before reassuring everyone ashore. “In this crew, they know how to do this sort of thing without taking too many risks.” OK. That’s noted, Francis. The next time we experience fifty-knot winds in the street, we’ll try to carry out repairs on our bicycle just to see how it feels.
IDEC SPORT smashed the Indian Ocean record by crossing the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at 2240hrs on Thursday evening (after 18 days, 20 hours and 41 minutes of sailing since leaving Ushant). Between Cape Agulhas (South Africa) and Cape Leeuwin (Australia), Francis Joyon’s crew only took five days, 11 hours and 23 minutes. The top three times for this stretch were all above six days, with the record-holder, Banque Populaire V, completing this stretch in 6 days 0 h and seven minutes.