The last twelve hours have been very fast for Francis Joyon’s men with the dials regularly indicating speeds of 40 knots or more.
They are fast. Very fast. In the middle of the North Atlantic – 1000 miles NE of Puerto Rico – the six sailors on IDEC SPORT are smoking. Their aim is to attempt to get around the west of this area of high pressure, the second to block their way north since Cape Horn. Over the past twelve hours, the speed rarely dipped below 35 knots and for several minutes at a time was even above 40 knots, getting close to 45 knots. Anyone who hasn’t experienced these conditions for themselves would find it hard to appreciate what that feels like. To reach this sort of speed RIBs require powerful engines. IDEC SPORT is close to sailing 800 miles a day at the moment.
Some rough final days
The problem is that these speeds are not in the direction of the finish. If they continued on their current bearing they would be heading up to Canada and entering the St Lawrence. At these high speeds with the spray flying, they have to pay particular attention to the sheets and at the helm. The speed towards the finish is a third of their real speed, around 10 knots. They have no choice as to their right there is no wind. As Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Clément Surtel, Alex Pella, Gwénolé Gahinet and Boris Herrmann finishing their 43rd day at sea, they have known for several days that the record is beyond reach this time. But they remain determined and their attitude is impressive. They are aiming to round this high quickly in order to reach the areas of low pressure sweeping across the North Atlantic from west to east. That is going to require particular attention, considering the violence of the storms currently reaching the coasts of NW Europe. This final week at sea is going to be rough and conditions are already like that.