With fewer than 900 miles to go to Guadeloupe, Francis Joyon is taking full advantage of a strong trade wind blowing from the ENE at around twenty knots. IDEC SPORT and her skipper are really enjoying themselves with speeds permanently above thirty knots, which is way in excess of the boat’s polars, but also better than the performance achieved in the Jules Verne Trophy with a crew. Francis is not hiding the fact that he is pushing his boat hard and for this Route du Rhum is in the same mode as for the records, which built his reputation. He is keen ly chasing after the blue boat. The Macif trimaran is still within reach and is keeping IDEC SPORT in check, with the latter regaining fifty miles yesterday.
“We’re in typical trade winds. The boat loves it. Twenty knots of wind and we’re speeding along at thirty to 36 knots all the time. It’s great and the boat isn’t suffering at all. It’s really fantastic. We chose a tactic to deal with Macif, as she is a bit further south. I’m trying to play with them,” added Francis. “I’m still under full mainsail and gennaker, giving it my all. I’m pleased with the boat and when I look at how she performed with a crew, I can see I’m doing better, as IDEC SPORT is much lighter and that’s an appreciable difference.”
In sprint mode without any reservation, Francis is doing his utmost. He knows all about the Route du Rhum and having sailed several times around the north of the island of Guadeloupe, knows that anything can happen until they have passed Basse-Terre. “I can smell Guadeloupe coming up. The finish in Guadeloupe is traditionally very tactical and you can find yourself stopped for several hours. I have seen that happen to my advantage and disadvantage. In 2014 with Yann Eliès, I made it through, but in another edition, I got completely stuck.”
At the helm and under the protective cover on his boat after a quick spell out on the deck, Francis is focusing on what is his obsession, speed. “The protective cover is my rest area, but I am spending more time at the helm and trimming the sails. I only go under the cover to grab a bite to eat, look at the weather and take a short nap. That is something that hasn’t changed for the better either. I’ll be completely out of it by the time we get to the finish I tend not to restrain the boat. She can take it, as she was well prepared and I’m really pushing her like crazy. I have narrowed the gap slightly to Macif. I like that. It’s never over on a multihull until it’s over. It just takes a thundery calm and in our trimarans, it only takes a few hours to catch up what we have lost.”