And they’re off again! While they had to wait a short while for the low-pressure system to leave Argentina, Francis Joyon and his men sailing to the NW of the Falklands have enjoyed a good morning. The wind has built from the starboard stern of the IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran, which is back up to high speeds again. Joyon, Surtel, Gahinet, Stamm, Audigane and Pella will be trying to get the most out of this disturbed weather system in the next two days.
Making good progress towards the north on a good point of sail, they nevertheless have to avoid the very strong winds by gybing at the right moment this evening. Strong winds and a good angle, with decent seas ahead of the low and a crew that managed to get some rest in the calm conditions off the Falklands… everything is falling into place off Argentina to get back up to the incredible speeds we have seen from the IDEC maxi-trimaran over the past four weeks.
“We’re going along at 27-30 knots on a very easterly bearing, which will gradually swing around to the north.” Clément Surtel, one of the five men in Joyon’s band of warriors, is calmly looking ahead to the next few days aboard IDEC SPORT, as they deal with the various hurdles in the South Atlantic. “With the big gennaker at 140° to the wind, on manageable seas, it’s smooth sailing time again. Yesterday was a day of extremely light airs, allowing the weary foot soldiers to get some rest and carry out an inspection of the boat,” explained the sailor in charge of the technical aspects. “I saw that there was some wear I hadn’t seen before,” he said with some astonishment. This goes to show how hard they have in fact been pushing the boat since 17th December. “We dealt with all these little problems and the boat is back to 100%. We’re pleased to get back up to speed this morning. We’re on our way home now. We are focusing on the boat and looking forward to a positive outcome. We need to remain focused until we get to Ushant.” Incidentally, Clément Surtel is a cousin to Servane Escoffier, Louis Burton’s wife. The skipper taking part in the Vendée Globe is just ahead of them and they were able to exchange a few e-mails.
Clear skies, flat calm seas, favourable winds… the helmsmen have however not yet finished with their gloves and protection. “We’re still down at 50°S and at night, it’s chilly, so we sleep with our wooly hats on,” said the youngest member of the crew, Gwénolé Gahinet, still in awe of the sights around the Falklands yesterday. “We enjoyed rounding the Horn and passing the Falklands. Since this morning we have got back up to high speed. We’re expecting 30-35-40 knot winds in the coming hours. That’s quite windy, but we don’t have that nasty swell that goes with it sometimes. We will turn off to avoid the worst of the low this evening between 1600hrs UTC and 2300hrs UTC.”
6300 miles from the finish and in spite of a plesant day as tourists off the Falklands, IDEC SPORT is now back up to more than 22 knots of VMG, with a lead of just over 1900 miles over the Jules Verne Trophy title-holder.