In the Jules Verne Trophy, Loick Peyron and his men are back in the Northern Hemisphere and have been since 12:17:30 (French time) on Friday. Their arrival back in the Northern Hemisphere comes 38 days two hours 45 minutes and 48 seconds* after leaving Ushant.
Maxi Banque Populaire V - Jules Verne Trophy 2011
With this outstanding performance, the Maxi Banque Populaire V not only writes a new distinction to his logbook, but also improves the partial Equator to Equator with a lead of three days 18 hours 24 minutes over Groupama 3 in 2010 but above all, faster than any other sailing boat on this race. A good sign for the fourteen sailors entering their final week at sea.
With this new partial shattered, the Maxi Banque Populaire V carries on falling records on her attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. 32 days 11 hours 51 minutes and 30 seconds * after entering the southern hemisphere, the fourteen record’s hunters shattered the time set in 2005 by Bruno Peyron aboard Orange II, improving it by more than one day. Still enjoying mild conditions, the crew of the Maxi Banque Populaire V, by the voice of his skipper, savors the moment of the crossing: 'We crossed the equator at high speed. We are sailing at 35 knots, on a sea almost flat, it’s really fun! The boat does not suffer, and men even less. Everyone is excited, especially the fresh Cape Horners. Hello northern hemisphere, that's not bad at all this record! It will now be increasingly difficult to beat it but still feasible and that's the good news ...'
A natural enthusiasm shared by Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman / trimmer on board, who joined today’s radio vacation:
'We are in the northern hemisphere for a few minutes and it already seems like being on our usual playground. It's been thirty-two days since we left the Northern Hemisphere, which roughly accounts for three quarters of the time in the South and one quarter in the North. It brings us closer to home, which is good. The sailing conditions are beautiful, the sea is completely flat and it is almost straight on the road. There are very little squalls, the nights are quiet, starry ... we really encounter exceptional conditions and we could not ask for more, including the boat. The weather conditions enable us to break the record but our anxiety is coming from the technique. We have sailed 20,000 miles without making any pit stop, we must keep the equipment in good shape.'
For Brian Thompson, this passage to the North was even more particular, 'I was lucky enough to be on the helm doing 35 knots as we counted down 0.02S, 0.01S, 0.01N!! The third small bottle of Champagne we have carried was opened, and some of the bubbly nectar is first given to Neptune, to thank him for a safe passage through the Southern Seas..then comes the saucisson and the Toblerone, all being shared between the crew and that God of the Sea.'
This return in the North is not the finish line and on board, we specifically know that even after 24 063 miles undergone smoothly, nothing is settled yet. Vigilance is still more than ever a must, as the final conditions for the final stretch ahead appears nicely. With a lead of 1 432 miles and three days advance on Groupama 3 around the same time, a certain serenity sets in, especially as the inter-tropical convergence zone is seen as particularly friendly as recalled Thierry Duprey du Vorsent:
'The Doldrums are not very active, and thanks to our western position, it should be easy to get through. This will be one of the first times I pass them without a transition zone of dead calm on a single board. Again, we are lucky. We will have to get dressed again in two or three days and get the fleeces and foul weather gears out again. But we will accept it more easily as the finish line won’t be far!'
With an average of 26.31 knots since leaving Ushant on November 21st, Loïck Peyron and his men have significantly reduced the time and distance, leaving their fans admiring. Rarely a boat will have scrolled through that amount of miles and still demonstrating such reliability. Qualities that the skipper did not fail to mention this afternoon: 'Last night, around 6pm, we were off the coast of Recife in Brazil while we were still off Cape Horn less than a week ago. The Maxi Banque Populaire V is a unique fighter on the planet. We should return to Brest in a week and oddly, it promises to be the most week-long of this round the world course.' But before seeing the end of this last week, the fourteen men still have to compose with the North Atlantic sea before entering the great history of offshore sailing.
* subject to approval and ratification by the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council)
Maxi Banque Populaire V website