Francis Joyon and his crew of five on the IDEC SPORT Maxi trimaran crossed the longitude of Cape Agulhas today at 1117hrs UTC. This southernmost point of South Africa marks the end of the South Atlantic and the start of the Indian Ocean Although their race time since starting in Brest is behind that set in 2011 by Banque Populaire V, it remains a decent time and allows them to continue to hope to grab the Jules Verne Trophy record. “We have played our joker,” admitted Francis. The holder of the solo round the world record knows better than anyone that this voyage involves thousands of difficulties, but that things can suddenly turn around too.

A sticky patch

We weren’t able to stay ahead of the front, which would have allowed us to pass the Cape of Good Hope on one tack and close to the record time,” was Bernard Stamm’s analysis of the situation as they left the uncooperative South Atlantic in their wake. “This front was moving forward very quickly at more than 30 knots and we weren’t able to keep the right angle. So we had to gybe and this meant we were overtaken by the favourable wind.” Idec Sport has been slowed down since then in a sticky patch, which means they cannot reach their usual high speeds, until they are joined by a new area of low pressure moving eastwards, but for the moment this is only touching twenty knots and so for two days, the maxi trimaran has had some disappointingly low speeds. “It’s like a wall coming up behind us, but which can’t catch us,” explained Francis. “Our speed is going between 15 and 20 knots, which is not enough to keep up with the record pace. We are taking advantage of this to dive further south, which will mean a shorter voyage, until stronger northerlies arrive at lunchtime.” Idec Sport will then benefit from a more favourable wind angle offering high speeds. A tropical low is building below Madagascar. The men on Idec Sport and their onshore router, Marcel van Triest are watching this closely. It will determine how far south they have to go to cross the Indian Ocean, as it will be generating strong headwinds to its south, which would be disastrous for the progress of the trimaran in this voyage eastwards.

Maxi Trimaran IDEC SPORT, Skipper Francis Joyon, crew member Boris Hermann, prior to their Jules Verne Trophy record attempt, crew circumnavigation, in Brest on november 21, 2015 - Photo Francois Van Malleghem / DPPI / IDEC Sport
Francois Van Malleghem / DPPI / IDEC Sport

Boris Herrmann’s round

“We’re sailing in a thick mist, which is sticking with us,” smiled Bernard Stamm. “This morning we couldn’t see more than a boat length in front of us. The air temperature is up and down. Yesterday it was quite mild, but it’s very cold this morning. We have to keep taking off and putting on layers of clothing.” One thing that was much appreciated this morning was a few gulps of whisky offered by Boris Herrmann to celebrate crossing the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope. “For breakfast, it was a bit of a shock to the system,” explained Francis. “Having not had a drop for a while, that put us in good shape for the rest of the day.” We can see that the atmosphere remains upbeat aboard the giant trimaran, which is continuing to go down into the wilderness of the Southern Ocean. “We’ve seen a few birds here and there coming out of the fog to say hello. The sea temperature is 3 degrees. The satellite observation of the ice hasn’t revealed anything alarming yet.”

Idec Sport crossed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope this morning at 0714hrs UTC after 13 days, 5 hours and 11 minutes of racing. They passed Cape Agulhas and entered the Indian Ocean at 1117hrs UTC after a total time of 13 days, 9 hours and 14 minutes hours since the start.

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