Favourable weather - Sodeb'O sails towards forties

Thomas Coville - Happy New Year. Sodeb’O Voile - Record attempt
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For the past two days, Thomas Coville has found fresh wind again and, what is more a good W'ly wind which is progressively shifting round to the NE, propelling the red and white trimaran along at over 20 knots towards the Cape of Good Hope. Installed abeam of Sodeb'O's course, the Saint Helena High will force the skipper from La Trinite, Brittany to make a detour of some 800 miles. A high price to pay, which the skipper estimates to be around two and a half days.

Thomas remains serene however. As he confided: 'Sailing single-handed on this 32 metre trimaran is a real joy. Today my only frustration is the performance, even though I am reasoning on the attempt as a whole and not on the present moment. If I’m not capable of accepting the terms of an open air sport, I should to do some indoor sport. I’m teasing, but I won’t hide the fact that these are difficult times. In order to extract ourselves from Saint Helena, we opted for the least bad of all the solutions.'

The near future is more favourable albeit harsh: 'Ahead of me lie 36 hours sailing close to a steady wind with head seas. I’m making headway on one float in a wall of fog at 20/25 knots. It’s like skiing when you go downhill into the fog. In a few days, I’ll bend my course towards South Africa, though it’ll still be vigorous. The Indian Ocean should be less complicated than the weather pattern that we’ve been tackling for the past few days'. Indeed, the depression which accompanies Thomas today, should meet up with another system of strong W’ly winds, which will push Sodeb’O along on a good point of sail across the Southern Seas.

The atmosphere aboard has changed completely. Gone are the long nocturnal sessions slipping along in a T-Shirt under the stars and it’s hello to the polars. A fine drizzle is drenching the deck, whilst the horizon is becoming overcast. The universe is becoming uniformly grey and the temperature has dropped 10 degrees in two days. As the water temperature hasn’t dropped much, the fog has settled in with the cold: 'It’s quite wet but, thanks to the protection of the cockpit, I’m not compelled to get fully dressed to manœuvre except when I go up forward'.

Looking towards the future, the skipper doesn’t hide his desire to find what he went in search of: '…sailing in a multihull, single-handed in the Southern Ocean. The three coming weeks will enable me to live the richest experience there is in terms of emotion. Three intense weeks of moving along at high speed, coloured by a permanent chill. More than the destination, it is the voyage which is beautiful. It’s everything except a solitary project. It’s a team, a family. I find my support in others. This new year, I hope to brighten the daily lives of others with this fantasy. A round the world voyage single-handed and in a multihull only has meaning when it is shared'.

POSITION OF THE TRIMARAN SODEB’O – Tuesday 01 January 2008 at 1530 UTC
Latitude: 36 27.69' South
Longitude: 12 56.63' West
Instantaneous speed: 21.3 knots
Instantaneous heading: 159
True wind aboard: Force 7 – East
Average speed: 21.3 knots
Average speed over 24 hours: 19.95 knots
Distance over 24 hours: 478.70 miles
Speed since the start: 15 knots
Total distance: 24,089 miles
Distance remaining: 18,718.10 miles

Difference between Ellen MacArthur’s record: lead of 346 miles, or 1 day, 37mn, 51s
Deficit in relation to Francis Joyon’s current time: around 3 days