Petrels, albatrosses, a longer and longer swell, and clear skies since the front went over… all these elements noted by Francis Joyon and part of his crew are signs that they are about to enter the vast, wilderness of the Southern Ocean. The High parked under South Africa is preventing them from now from taking the traditional route towards the Cape of Good Hope at around 45 degrees south. IDEC SPORT will be joining the Indian Ocean diving right down to the Fifties. The six man crew caught their final glimpse of land this morning as they passed the volcanic islands of Tristan da Cunha. A foretaste of the marvels that lie ahead….
Last night was a busy night on the IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran. With wind and swell opposed to each other, the route to the Southern Ocean was rather chaotic. The task facing the helmsmen was all the more complicated and worrying. Gwénolé Gahinet, one of the rising stars of French sailing, has been discovering all the different facets of this fast race around the world aboard one of the fastest sailing boats in the world. “Watches lasting 90 minutes at the helm quickly tire you with these speeds and cross seas,” he declared. “It’s mind-blowing, but fortunately IDEC SPORT is a very safe boat, which lets you get away with many mistakes. You have to be careful to avoid getting carried away on a fast-moving wave. We are pushing at 100%, always on the edge of getting into the red zone, which would endanger the mechanical elements on board the boat.” The fact that there are so many different backgrounds in the crew is important, as people like Bernard Stamm and Alex Pella are able with Francis to pass on their wealth of experience on the world’s oceans.
Getting to the Furious Fifties
With less than 1500 miles to go to the Cape of Good Hope, IDEC SPORT is still keeping up good speeds, on a very efficient route. Francis Joyon, without any false optimism, believes that the way they have dealt with the South Atlantic, which has been unwilling to cooperate, has worked out well. “I thought we would lose more time passing through the transition zone off Brazil,” he explained. “If we round the Cape of Good Hope around fifteen hours behind the record, that will be a satisfactory outcome.” Light, fitted with a “small” mast built for solo sailing in the last Route du Rhum, IDEC SPORT has so far shown herself to be perfectly suited to the conditions along the way. “We are able to get the most out of the boat,” stressed Gwéno, “and we have been learning more about the boat each day and about all the different settings.” Averaging more than 33 knots of VMG, (velocity made good), IDEC SPORT is speeding towards the wilderness of the Southern Ocean, an experience clearly enjoyed by Gwéno, Bernard, Boris, Clément, Alex and Francis, all keenly looking forward to the adventures that lie ahead.