IDEC SPORT’s route close to being direct has paid off: A lead of 175 miles on Tuesday afternoon over the trajectory they have to beat. Francis Joyon and his men are getting a lot out of the weather opportunity in the North Atlantic and are already 400 miles south west of the Canaries.

In two and a half days of sailing, the boom on IDEC SPORT has only gone from one side to the other on one occasion. They were on the starboard tack to the latitude of Gibraltar, and since then they have been speeding along on the port tack. Soaring away like a jet fighter, in fact. “Most of the time, we are averaging between 31 and 32 knots,” calmly explained Bernard Stamm, the most Breton of the “Swiss army knives” on board. At 1400hrs this afternoon, IDEC SPORT had averaged 29.3 knots over the previous 24 hours… Above all, this speed has been very beneficial as straight on the direct route: since the start off Ushant, the difference has been very small between the miles covered on the theoretical route (1611) and the number actually sailed out on the water (1740). This closeness is quite exceptional. When you are sailing, it is not just a matter of sailing quickly, but you also have to find the right route, and the weather rarely gives you this opportunity. However, that is what is happening now. As proof of that, at the same point in their record, Loïck Peyron and his men on Banque Populaire had already carried out seven gybes. IDEC SPORT only one. The result is truly amazing if we look at the numbers: a lead of 175 miles at 1400hrs this afternoon as opposed to being 80 miles behind the record pace yesterday evening at 1930hrs.

“It’s very nice”

Yes it’s very nice indeed,” was how Francis Joyon camly described the situation, as IDEC SPORT passed to the south of the Canaries with the big, red trimaran on her way to the Equator. The line separating the two hemispheres is now less than 1500 miles from their bows, while they have already clocked up 1600 miles in two days and twelve hours.

From out on the water, the skipper of IDEC SPORT explained to us that what may appear to be a very straight line isn’t really the case. The wind shadow from the Canaries slowed the trimaran down slightly, but above all, “we have to follow the little changes as in the squalls, the NE’ly wind isn’t very stable. It can vary by 40 degrees at times. Fortunately our general bearing remains very good.” So there hasn’t been any major manoeuvre and IDEC SPORT is still under big gennaker, which has been the case since her only gybe, but “we really have to pay attention to trimming,” Bernard Stamm added. “In the squalls, the strength of the wind can vary a lot too. We bear away when the wind suddenly strengthens.”

Three-hour rest periods

The atmosphere remains upbeat aboard the boat. This is only natural, as the watch system has been re-organised. Up to now, the six men took it in turns every hour. It’s now every hour and a half with two permanently out on deck. “That means we get three hour breaks to allow us to get some rest,” noted Bernard Stamm. On top of that, it’s starting to get hot on IDEC SPORT and that too is a boost. “We have reached the point where we don’t know what to wear, because you have to remember we create a lot of apparent wind,” laughed Bernard Stamm. He certainly knows what he is talking about when you’re talking about what to wear. There is the famous story that he was once forced to race in the Southern Ocean during a solo round the world race without any fleece or warm clothing, as he had left them behind on the pontoon. He wasn’t exactly running around in his underwear but almost. On that occasion, that didn’t stop him from winning, but this time, he has everything he needs with him.

In short

At 1430hrs on Tuesday 24th November, IDEC SPORT was sailing at 31.03 knots at 24°16 North and 22°31 West, 400 miles to the south west of the Canaries. On a southerly bearing  (206°). Lead over the record time: 176.5 miles.

The crew
The international crew on IDEC SPORT includes just six men: Francis Joyon (FRA), Bernard Stamm (SUI), Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA), Alex Pella (ESP), Clément Surtel (FRA) and Boris Herrmann (GER)

IDEC SPORT set off at 02:02:22 on Sunday 22nd November.

The time to beat
Loïck Peyron and his crew (Banque Populaire) with a time of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.

To smash the Jules Verne Trophy record, IDEC SPORT has to be back across the line before 1544hrs on Wednesday 6th January.

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