Last night, IDEC Sport began to tackle the powerful area of low pressure developing off Argentina, which is sweeping across the South Atlantic towards South Africa.
The big trimaran, expertly sailed by Joyon and his troops, is managing to keep up with the forces of nature in this disturbed air stream accelerating across the Atlantic. In spite of the forecasts and routing predictions, IDEC Sport has kept ahead of the front, and is advancing on seas that haven’t yet been whipped up by the strong westerlies. Francis, Gwéno, Alex, Clément, Bernard and Boris are hanging on to the Good Hope Express. When they gybe, once the front has caught them, they will dive right down into the gloomy waters located between the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties.
Before the south
“We had the bit between our teeth all night trying to keep ahead of the front.” Francis Joyon could not hide his astonishment this morning, nor his pleasure at seeing how well the IDEC Sport maxi trimaran was performing. “The routing showed that we would be caught by the front, but we managed to stay ahead of it on fairly smooth seas with a decent wind.” Getting some sort of revenge after the cruelty shown by the South Atlantic over the past few days, the whole crew did its utmost during the night and at the start of this tenth day of racing in this battle against the elements. “Bernard (Stamm) is at the helm,” said Francis. “He has just eased the car. It’s the first time I’ve seen that happen. He hates doing that.” Clément Surtel, pleased to be experiencing what life is like on the inside aboard the boat that he has spent a long time preparing, added, “Bernard is the best helmsman on board. He has an incredible feeling at the helm.”
Each of the sailors on IDEC Sport waits impatiently for that moment of grace, when they take the helm of the giant for 90 minutes, with speed and excitement guaranteed. “41.3! 43.1 knots on the speedo!” Francis told us. “We’re moving quickly and it’s a bit hairy!” While the temperatures remain relatively clement, they are set to plunge as they dive south. “We’re in our wet weather gear and we’re getting a taste of life in the Southern Ocean. It will soon be getting cold. It’s strange going from the cold weather in Brittany to the tropical heat and now the cold of the deep south.” Having sailed 5700 nautical miles out on the water averaging 25.6 knots, IDEC Sport is about to enter the wide open spaces of the Southern Ocean.
The difference between their position and that of the record set four years ago by Loïck Peyron and his crew of 13 on the maxi trimaran, Banque Populaire V is still at around 300 miles in favour of the record-holder or around 13 hours of sailing.
However, this is not worrying the crew on IDEC Sport: “Loïck made it to the Cape of Good Hope with an exceptional time (Ushant to the Cape in 11 days 21 hours and 48 minutes) and we never thought we’d better that time. We’d told ourselves from the start that being a day behind at the Cape of Good Hope wasn’t too much of a problem.”
The boat offering 110% of her potential
IDEC Sport, averaging more than 33 knots this morning, is showing she is certainly capable of closing that gap, thanks to the talent of her helmsmen, and the configuration of the rig and sails, which are perfectly suited to the conditions of the Southern Ocean, as Clément Surtel explained, “The boat is offering 110% of her potential. IDEC Sport is set up perfectly with the small mast. There is less windage at the top.”
So it is clear that now is the time for speed on IDEC Sport, and they are doing their best to remain in this air stream moving towards South Africa for as long as possible. “We’ll be trying to remain ahead of the front for as long as we can,” explained Francis. “As soon as we are caught, we’ll gybe to dive down to the Forties to around 45 degrees south.” The whole crew is making the most of these excellent conditions, offering good speed, as Clément Surtel stressed, “The boat is really giving us pleasure and is very stable. Today, it’s a bit harder to get any rest because of the speed. It feels great at the helm. We shall be sailing quickly with the front for as long as possible. We’re getting ready to enter the Southern Ocean with the long swell and albatrosses. We’re making the most of it and enjoying ourselves.”
Clément Surtel: We’re thinking of Franck
When he prepared Groupama 3, which is now Idec Sport, Clément Surtel was a member of Franck Cammas’s crew during the winning Jules Verne Trophy attempt in 2009-2010. He naturally had a thought for his friend, Frankie, who was seriously injured in a training accident yesterday.