Francis Joyon’s crew is in the process of succeeding in their gamble and achieving the remarkable feat of wiping out a deficit of 800 miles in just four days. This afternoon (Thursday), they only have around fifty miles left to catch up. Tonight, they will be crossing the longitude of Cape Leeuwin.
The six sailors on board IDEC SPORT are still pushing hard in their challenge of claiming back lost ground, which began on Sunday evening, as they attempt to get back to the pace set by the record-holder, Loïck Peyron’s Banque Populaire V. They have had to fight to keep a tropical low coming down from Madagascar behind them, and they appear to have achieved this goal. As they dash across the Indian Ocean, it has been a bitter struggle too, “dealing with the cold and maintaining high speeds,” as Gwénolé Gahinet, who is discovering the Southern Ocean, explained.
The boat could not be contacted today and we can fully understand why. In the polar cold in the Southern Ocean at between 52 and 54 degrees south, the aim of the six men on IDEC SPORT has been clear: they have to sail as quickly as possible on the straightest course they can find. They have been doing just that, taking it in turns at the helm changing over every hour to remain fully focused. The speeds are high averaging more than thirty knots with peaks of forty, meaning they are covering more than 700 miles in 24 hours… The gains they have made have been exceptional. Four days ago, they had a deficit of 800 miles and that fell to 300 yesterday evening, with IDEC SPORT practically back to the reference time this afternoon (Thursday). The deficit has been cut to just fifty miles, so we can probably look forward to getting equal again tonight. We believe it can be done.
Leeuwin early tonight
It is true that the wind charts indicate lighter winds to their south, forcing them to climb back up to a more northerly route. And that is indeed what they are doing. The exceptional gains they have made over the past few days are likely to slow down, as the record-holder started to head down south at this point. But let’s enjoy what we are seeing for now. Tomorrow is another day. We knew before the start of this round the world voyage that if there was any improvement to be made over the reference time, it would be in the Pacific, where Banque Populaire saw time slipping by during their record voyage. So let’s sit back and enjoy the huge success of this third week of racing, with hundreds of miles being clocked up in the deep south on a straight line thanks to the efforts of the crew.
Tonight, Francis Joyon and his troops will be crossing the longitude of the second of the three major capes in the Jules Verne Trophy: Cape Leeuwin in SW Australia. For those people, who thought the game was up four days ago, the message is now clear: IDEC SPORT is still in with every chance. At 1400hrs this afternoon, they were only fifty miles from getting back on an equal footing with the record-holder. It seems so incredible that we are stressing those figures: they have regained more than 750 miles in less than four days…