Used to crossing the Atlantic from East to West, Francis Joyon has been in the trade winds since last night. Clear skies, decent sunshine, bright light, and a deep blue sea with white tops make up the setting today for IDEC SPORT to take everything in her stride. During the night, Francis picked up the trade winds after four or five sail changes that he never complains about and carefully plans. The variations in the wind behind the boat going from 8 to 25 knots are something he knows all about and it is by instinct that he expresses that in the giant trimaran’s speed. At the maximum of his polars, and even slightly above, Joyon is on this fourth day of racing more than ever hard at work, on the attack, searching for speed. And as always it all comes naturally to him as he feels at one with his boat, which tells him where the limit is without him needing to ask and warns him away from places he should not go.
A V-shaped movement under the high
It is a classic exercise for the routers. This afternoon, Francis is preparing one of those common moves frequently seen in such ocean races. A V-shaped movement, as he approaches the heart of the area of high pressure. He will have to time the gybe just right. Not too soon to ensure he keeps up his speed and makes good headway, but not too late to avoid getting stuck in the wind holes at the heart of the high. The seas remain heavy and waves build which bring the boat to a halt. Once on the port tack, IDEC SPORT will be able to make gains towards Guadeloupe, which this evening is just over 1800 miles away. In other words, we are at the halfway point in the theoretical course for the Route du Rhum.
Giving it his all with no regrets…
“I kept hard at it during the night,” explained the giant 62 year old. “I did a lot of sail changes to adapt to the entry into the trade winds, which remained very unsteady. There is still a very heavy swell left over from the previous lows. I’m constantly trying to find the best angle in the trade wind somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees. That requires my constant attention and I don’t have much time to sleep. I’m quite pleased with the foils we fitted this year to IDEC SPORT. I have kept them in place all the time, even in the storm, and I think that for me they added to the safety of the boat, even if she wasn’t always able to fly. I’m pleased to be sailing a boat that is able to fully express herself and with 100% of her ability remaining for this second part of the race in the trade winds towards Pointe à Pitre. Anything can happen in this race. I don’t want to have any regrets at the finish, whatever the final outcome.”