There’s no changing Francis. The skipper of the ‘IDEC SPORT’ maxi-trimaran is at the age of 63 just as keen as ever to set new records and perform well, as we have been able to see over the past 24 hours, during which with the support of his weather advisor back on dry land, Christian Dumard, he has been examining the charts and routes and comparing them to what it is like out on the water. His goal is to catch the tail of a low-pressure system, which yesterday was out of reach, but which could propel him for more than 2300 miles under the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope. Such a performance could enable ‘IDEC SPORT’ to round the famous cape just under two days ahead of his reference time from 2009. As for the conditions aboard ‘IDEC SPORT’, the tropical air is behind him now and the wet weather gear, fleeces and foulies are out again.
The day began with two gybes. Clearly, Francis Joyon is in good shape. He is keener than ever to search for speed and performance, which seem to be the food for his very existence. “The Deep South is a place where IDEC-SPORT frolics like a thoroughbred in a meadow! It was here with the crew in the Jules Verne Trophy that we clocked up day after day of more than 800 miles.” This memory lingers on Francis’s mind. He has chosen now to watch a low move east and for another to develop to the south of Uruguay. The latter promises downwind conditions allowing him to follow the former, which may allow him to hop across the huge South Atlantic separating him from the tip of South Africa.
“I shall be diving even further south,” he explained in his usual calm voice that has become part of the legend. “I’ll be staying ahead of that low which will speed along towards South Africa. The second low seemed to be decent enough, but the prospect of saving two days by the Cape of Good Hope has led me to focus on how I sail to gain a few thousandths of a knot more to make the most of that low pressure system that appears to be waiting for me. The skies are clouding over and the wind getting above twenty knots. I’m where I want to be!”
‘IDEC SPORT’ left the tropical air behind yesterday. The wet weather gear is out again. “I love these latitudes” admits Francis. “This is a place that is both scary and fascinating. I feel happy here, as I know this is where the boat is able to express herself fully and she can speed along smoothly in some wonderful light.”
The skipper of ‘IDEC SPORT’ has an incredible ability to go from a moment of contemplation to working flat out around his trimaran. “Yesterday was a day for dreaming. I read a few pages of a book by Jean Marie Gustave Le Clézio who tells the story of his grandfather travelling to Rodrigues Island (an island near Mauritius). Since this morning, I have been very busy aboard the boat taking advantage of this first low-pressure system slowing down. Good Hope, here we come! It’s funny, but out of all my trips around the world I have never caught sight of South Africa, as I have always sailed a long way off the coast. It is nevertheless a symbolic longitude in my mind.”