Sailor Francis Joyon is in the process of the successful completion his latest attempt at the Columbus Route. On Thursday lunchtime, he only had 280 miles left to sail before crossing the finishing line in San Salvador. After being slowed down yesterday, IDEC was back up to speeds of around twenty knots and should smash her own record taking the time to under nine days. They are due to finish tomorrow (Friday).
French sailor Francis Joyon and his boat IDEC II
On what is more or less the direct route with a little less than 300 miles to sail, the maxi trimaran IDEC has managed to increase her speed again to around 20 knots over the past few hours. After carrying out a lot of manoeuvres yesterday – as planned – to deal with the areas of calm to the south of a high-pressure area, Francis Joyon managed to keep around half of the lead he had built up before, in other words around 200 of the 400 miles. That should be enough to ensure that he does more than simply achieve the goal he set himself at the start in Cadiz exactly 8 days ago, when he aimed to shave ten hours or so off the record.
In the end, the gain is likely to be around twice what he had planned, as IDEC is due to cross the finishing line as early as tomorrow morning (Friday 15th February). In any case long before time runs out if he wants to improve on his own record set back in 2008 on this route (9 days and 20 hours), as to do that IDEC would simply have to finish before 0821hrs GMT on Saturday morning.
'If all goes smoothly, I should finish some time tomorrow morning (Friday),' Francis Joyon confirmed by phone this Thursday, 'Even if I still have to deal with some final areas of calm. Having said that, I have a bit more wind than the charts were showing,' the pilot of the maxi trimaran IDEC was happy to announce.
We should add that this extraordinary performance is being achieved in unusual circumstances, as Francis Joyon is finding his own route, without any external assistance. And the Columbus Route is more complicated that the prestigious North Atlantic record. In fact, in this direction, the solo sailor has to deal with a series of weather systems coming one after the other, with transition zones, which are never easy to cope with and take time to get through. That explains basically why sailors take more time to go from east to west than they do from New York to the Lizard, where going from west to east, you have to surf along at high speed on the low-pressure areas crossing the Atlantic.
That record is itself part of Francis Joyon’s schedule this year. IDEC is now on the right side of the Atlantic to go on stand-by in New York from the spring. Another exciting challenge, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For the moment, Joyon has to complete this transatlantic crossing and tomorrow morning we should have more time to get out the calculators.