After a tack back during the night, which lasted just over five hours, Francis Joyon and his men are now on the direct route to Ushant. They have 2000 miles left to sail before getting home. In some very heavy weather.
IDEC SPORT gybed twice in the past few hours. Firstly at around midnight and secondly at 0540hrs. During the night, they therefore sailed 120 miles towards the NW before turning back to point their bows towards Ushant. The finishing line is only 2000 miles ahead of the big, red trimaran.
Francis Joyon will tell us later today why they carried out these gybes in the middle of the Atlantic, when we contact him by phone. It is highly likely that he is simply following the edge of the area of high pressure. On the right hand side of the boat, close to them, there are patches of light airs associated with the Azores high, which stops them from cutting the corner towards the east. On the other hand to their left, there is some very heavy weather awaiting the six men on IDEC SPORT.
During the final 2000 miles before the finish off Ushant, which they should reach on Friday, the charts are forecasting winds of 40-45 knots. This means gusts up to 60 knots, which explains why Francis told us the “final stretch was likely to be violent.” This type of deep low leads to very heavy seas, so the crew on IDEC SPORT will have to be even more vigilant during these last few days after all the excitement of their round the world voyage. The wind is already blowing 1000 miles WSW of the Azores, as we can see from their acceleration above 30 knots this morning. But they are not yet in the storm. The worst weather is around 200 miles to their north and that is where IDEC SPORT is heading. This evening, they are going to have to find the compromise between speed and safety. In any case, as Francis Joyon explained, “If we want to get back to Brittany, we don’t have any other choice but to face these tough conditions.”