Francis Joyon and his maxi trimaran IDEC-SPORT have got off to the finest of starts in their latest challenge, the Mauritius Route, an attempt to beat the record set by IDEC SPORT ten years ago between Port Louis (Morbihan) and Port Louis on the island of Mauritius. This is a fascinating voyage, although not often sailed, which takes the route followed by round the world sailors that the boat and the skipper know so well. With a lead of more than 184 miles over the pace he set with the second maxi trimaran to display the name of IDEC (designed by Irens in 2007), Francis says he is happy and pleased with the first 48 hours. The trajectory from Brittany to the island of Madeira that he passed north of around the middle of the day, looks very smooth, but hides a lot of difficulties with winds that have been irregular in strength and direction. This configuration is set to continue and become even more unstable as he makes his way to the Cape Verde Islands. Francis is not looking forward to setting an exceptional time to the Equator. He has already settled into long haul race mode and the rhythm is far off the furious pace he achieved a year ago when he won the Route du Rhum.

The equivalent of three Route du Rhum races

“I’m not pushing as hard as during the Rhum,” explained Francis. “This is a long haul race, representing the equivalent of three Route du Rhum races. I have to keep an eye on the equipment. The start of the record has gone well, in spite of having to get through squalls, where I needed to be extra cautious in between gusts and calms. At the moment, I am under a huge dark cloud, which is moving forward with me at low speed. I have to zig-zag around to get out away from its influence…”

IDEC SPORT gybed in the middle of the morning to head due south and is now on the port tack in the NE’ly Portuguese trade wind, which is being interrupted by squalls. Francis Joyon will be passing to the west of Madeira late this afternoon. The sailor and his onshore router, Christian Dumard are doing a lot of thinking about how to get past the Canaries. The areas of high pressure are also tending to move towards the south and the big trimaran must avoid at all cost getting caught by them. As expected before the start, the conditions will not allow him to get close to record times from Brittany to the Equator for crewed or solo sailing, but this was never Francis’s goal. He wants to make the most of the conditions he encounters while looking after his boat. “In this ASIAN TOUR, we are involved in a long adventure I am trying to find the right dose of performance and moderation for the boat and myself. I didn’t get any sleep during the first night, as is usual for this sort of epic voyage. Last night, I let myself take a few breaks, but the line of squalls kept me busy.”

Francis enjoying this great voyage

The winner of the Route du Rhum, holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, is once again enjoying himself as he always does when he finds himself at sea. “It’s true that I really enjoy this and I feel a special emotion sailing this route down to South Africa, which I have done on my round the world voyages. I am back with a unique way of living, feeling at harmony with the sea and the boat, which always fills me with emotions.” In his fleece and waterproofs, Francis is looking forward to a warm breeze off the Canaries this evening, before he rediscovers the heat coming off Africa.

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