ATTACKING THE DEEP SOUTH

After a rapid crossing of the Indian Ocean  –  “the most violent and fantastic run in my life as a sailor,” according to Sébastien Audigane, “the craziest sailing I have ever done down by the icebergs, pushing the boat and crew to the limit,” according to Gwénolé Gahinet – the Jules Verne trophy adventure is continuing to go well for the crew of IDEC SPORT. In the remote, desolate waters of the South Pacific, a strategic battle is beginning now for Francis Joyon and his men as they try to match the pace of the weather systems that lie ahead. We can look forward to a race against the clock, with a lot of work in sight as they head towards Cape Horn, with the dials still indicating that they have a lead of more than 820 miles over the record pace.

Going from one low to another, things have changed somewhat on IDEC SPORT, which has just dealt with a transition zone over the past 24 hours, offering fine weather to dry out the foulies and time for them to recover their breath. While they lost a few miles in the climb north and had their work cut out trying to get to the new wind, this day of rest was very much appreciated by the six men on board. This little break allowed them to do a few odd jobs around the boat and to build up their strength as they look forward to diving down into the most extreme latitudes of the Southern Ocean.

Diagonally down into the far south

“It’s nice having a drier boat, without hundreds of litres crashing down on us all the time and to get some sunshine, see the albatrosses, and some great light,” admitted Francis Joyon, who was pleased this morning after ten or so gybes to have made it to the winds associated with the next low, which were still ahead of them last night.

The skipper of IDEC SPORT is confident about what lies ahead in the icy waters around the Antarctic and added, “The solution is not as simple as in the Indian Ocean, which was fairly wild with amazing distances covered. The Pacific ahead of us looks quite lively, which is rather good for us. Let’s hope it will be pacific towards us and offer us some decent wind. For now, we’re diving diagonally down towards the south and we’ll soon be at 57° S.”

Full speed ahead to the Horn

There is a low they will have to cross and a high blocking their route forcing them to round it via the south down close to the ice limit. This is how the fourth week of racing begins for Francis Joyon, Alex Pella, Bernard Stamm, Sébastien Audigane, Gwénolé Gahinet and Clément Surtel, and it promises to be full of surprises and ups and downs in what is a very hostile environment.

But they are all ready to keep up the pace, as Clément Surtel explained: “We set off hoping to have a great Pacific. We are preparing ourselves to feel cold again, having to wear gloves, hats etc. We are ahead. It’s up to us now to catch the systems at the right time, push the boat when we have to and look after her when we can. Whatever happens, we’ll be giving it our all as we make our way to the Horn!” Bernard Stamm obviously agreed with this sentiment and says he is still amazed by the ability of IDEC SPORT to accelerate and “make the world seem that much smaller”.