Jules Verne Record Attempt: Close Call with An Iceberg

IDEC Sport

IDEC Sport

IDEC SPORT has regained 200 miles in 24 hours. The Furious Fifties are pushing the big, red trimaran at high speed across the Indian Ocean. But they need to watch out for icebergs. Yesterday, Francis Joyon’s crew came within a mile of one of these ice monsters, as big as a cargo ship…

They are now enjoying the Southern Ocean. “Yesterday we were engulfed in the mist and came to within a mile of an iceberg, which cooled down our excitement.” Cooled down may not be the ideal word to use here, as the temperature is already icy enough at 52 degrees south in the heart of the Indian Ocean. Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Clément Surtel, Gwénolé Gahinet and Boris Herrmann experienced the scary appearance of ice late yesterday afternoon. “We couldn’t see anything beyond 30 metres or so (a boat length – editor’s note )” explained Francis Joyon. “We spotted it on the radar, but we couldn’t see anything through the mist even with binoculars. We passed within a mile of this huge iceberg without seeing it. According to the size on the radar, it was about 150m long or the length of a cargo vessel…”

Once they had got over this scare, the good news was the arrival of stronger downwind conditions. During the night, they moved to a course forty miles or so south, and this paid off. When they tacked back to the east after this short dive, IDEC SPORT was back at speeds above 30 knots. “I’m looking at the wind instruments and we have 30-31 knots of real wind gusting to 37-38 at times. As a consequence the boat is sailing nicely and we’re constantly above thirty knots with peaks in excess of 35. We’re pleased. We knew that by diving south we would find a little more wind. We’re already a long way down, but our route across the Indian takes us a long way south. We may well go down to 54 degrees south.”

You read that right. 54 degrees south is a long way down. The Furious Fifties require them to keep a permanent watch. “We change over every half hour at the helm now,” added Francis. The six men on IDEC SPORT are fighting to keep their hands and faces from freezing. “Fortunately inside the boat, we have a little heater, which allows us to dry our clothes and give us a few extra degrees. It’s 11 degrees inside at the moment.”

“We’re doing 39 knots and lining up with the wind behind us. We have to be careful as potentially, there is ice ahead of us.” In these southern latitudes, IDEC SPORT is speeding towards the Kerguelens” said Stamm. This is a wet, icy, hostile environment… but at least they are clocking up the miles more quickly again now.