After sailing more than 26,000 miles last winter, as they sailed around the world chiefly downwind, the crew of IDEC SPORT is now discovering the “joys” of upwind sailing.
The wind has remained stubbornly variable since the start in strength and direction, so Francis Joyon and his four musketeers, Alex Pella, Guénolé Gahinet, Sébastien Picault and Quentin Ponroy have been running through all sorts of sail combinations, trying to keep up with the Macif maxi-trimaran with her foils. Indeed, her t-shaped rudders and foils have been working well whenever the wind gets up a bit, as Francis and his men saw last night. “We have been watching them on the AIS,” explained the skipper of IDEC SPORT, “and we could guess quite easily when they were starting to fly. While we were well set up with the right sail, they were five to six knots faster than us with our traditional configuration. It was impressive. With the wind dropping off a bit this morning, going from 25 to 10 knots, speeds are evening out again between us and Macif.”
IDEC SPORT is looking ahead to upwind sailing all the way to New York. “This is an upwind transatlantic race,” said Francis. “Sometimes we have been tempted to bear away slightly to get close to 40 knots, as was the case during the night, but that is not reasonable, as we are heading for New York. We are going to wait until the wind is dead ahead. We’ll then change tack to head westwards in lighter winds, until the next low appears. We haven’t given up hope of catching Macif. We’re pleased to be able to keep up in some conditions against this innovative boat.”
This short-handed crew is now very tired, as they all have to get involved for the manoeuvres out on deck and that was the case several times during the night. “The watches are going well and everyone is happy,” added Francis. « Guéno and I are looking at the European and American models twice a day. We draw up a synthesis, often with the help of Pic (Sébastien Picault), while watching the AIS to keep an eye on our rivals. Then we choose which bearing to adopt for the next few hours. Quentin Ponroy,the youngest member of the crew is really enjoying taking the helm and busy inspecting our sail to get the most out of them all the time.”
Follow the progress of the IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran here