Fine weather and calm seas off the coast of Brazil. After picking up the trade winds last night, on the 33rd day of racing against the clock, IDEC SPORT is heading due north at speeds varying between 25-30 knots, as they make their way towards the Equator, which they are expecting to cross in 3 or 4 days. Shortly they will have less than 4500 miles to go to get to Ushant, so Francis Joyon and his crew are about to start one of the final stretches in their round the world voyage in fairly favourable conditions clocking up easy miles while getting some rest and finding time to recuperate. This looks promising for what lies ahead in the Jules Verne Trophy attempt, with the forecasts announcing a low pressure system in the North Atlantic and a fast and furious final sprint home, as they complete this amazing round the world voyage, where the speedos have been going wild.
After a day spent carrying out odd jobs around the boat and looking after themselves, showering and shaving, Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Gwénolé Gahinet, Clément Surtel and Sébastien Audigane admit they are pleased to be in better conditions in moderate trade winds allowing them to take the direct route.
On the starboard tack, the red and grey trimaran, slowed right down yesterday in a transition zone, has picked up speed again and is heading north with her bows aiming for the Equator. “We have picked up some wind and are back at nice speeds again around 26-27 knots without making the boat suffer. The seas are fairly calm, so the boat isn’t slamming and the trimming isn’t changing that much. It’s fairly quiet, which makes a change for us and from what we have been through over the past few weeks. We let the autopilot take over occasionally, as that works well with the J1-full mainsail with occasional trimming to deal with the very small wind shifts,” explained Clément Surtel, confident in the work that has been done to deal with the little “cuts and bruises” to the boat, after they patched up IDEC SPORT yesterday, after her dash across the Southern Ocean.
All feeling exhausted and wanting a nap
While the trimaran accepted this pressure just picking up a few minor wounds, the same goes for the six men on board, who admit that they are starting to feel very tired after all the work done since the start on 16th December, when they left the harbour in Brest. In the calm waters of the South Atlantic, the opportunity to grab some sleep to make up for the lost hours on watch or at the helm dealing with the waves in extreme latitudes, was something not to be missed. “Everyone wakes up tired and clocking up hours of sleep: that’s when you realise how exhausted you really are,” declared Clément. This sentiment was shared by Sébastien Audigane, who added, “After all, we have been clocking up crazy speeds. That’s bound to add to the stress, even if you don’t realise it immediately. Then, there’s the cold too. That doesn’t help you rest. At the moment in the fairly light conditions, everyone is taking a nap and that is really appreciated.”
Remaining cautious, but feeling confident
Sleep, trade winds in clear skies and pleasant sunshine off Rio de Janeiro, with clearer weather forecasts ahead, that is enough for the gang on IDEC SPORT to feel upbeat about what lies ahead and the conclusion to this crazy adventure, as long as they do not get charmed by any sirens. “No one is safe from a UFO or making a mistake. Now more than ever, we have to sail cleanly, manoeuvre properly and not take any risks with the boat, as we deal with a small low-pressure system at the end,” stressed Clément. Attentive to the boat, he is optimistic like his fellow crewmen about the weather ahead of them, which should give IDEC SPORT a good final run after all they have so far achieved.
“For a while now, we have seen that there is a possibility for us. We should finish with a decent SW’ly wind of thirty knots with drizzle and rain. It will become clearer in the coming days, but it looks like ideal scenario,” added Sébastien Audigane.