Sodebo, skippered by Thomas Coville, is attempting to break the Jules Verne Trophy* 'solo' record currently held by Francis Joyen on IDEC.**
Sodebo - start of solo circumnavigation record attempt. Photo: Yvan Zedda/Sodebo
Powering through driving rain and 32 knots of SW’ly wind, Sodebo rounded the Cape of Good Hope this Tuesday at 1702 GMT after 17 days, 5 hours, 54 minutes and 32 seconds at sea. Thomas covered the 8,405 miles at an average speed of 20.31 knots and has now broken through into the Indian Ocean, a nasty, dreaded, liquid desert.
Having been forced to the West of the Saint Helena High, the deficit of 9 hours and 27 minutes on crossing the equator some ten days ago, has logically increased. With the same starting point, Idec covered 1,005 fewer miles than Sodebo in getting to this stage of the course, but also demonstrated less pace with an average of 20.12 knots.
As such, in a very honourable time and far from conciliatory weather conditions, Francis’ ‘challenger’ rounded the first of the three major capes of this circumnavigation of the globe with a deficit of less than two days on the reference time, 1 day, 22 hours and 41 minutes behind to be precise.
Since the four days that he has been making easting, it has been a testing time for Tom, who has been holding out on the leading edge of a very active low for longer than scheduled. Indeed the skipper will remember this morning’s radical rotation of the wind for some considerable time as he was pummelled by nearly 50 knots of breeze, which almost pitched the boat’s stern forward over her bows, providing an unprecedented shot of adrenalin (see this evening’s news in French 'Belle Frayeur!')...
Still making an average speed of between 22 and 23 knots in conditions he describes as 'wild', Thomas is watching night close in on Sodebo. On the speedo, over 540 miles swallowed up since the same time yesterday!
Passage time and record?
There is no intermediate record between Ushant and the Cape of Good Hope, solely a passage time which gives us a snapshot of Thomas’ progress at this stage of the course. The real record, one which will be authenticated by the official WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council), is that of the Indian Ocean, which is recorded between the Agulhas Cape, just off the Cape of Good Hope, at 20 degrees East, and the South of Tasmania, an island faraway beneath Australia. Between these points, Francis racked up a time of 9 days, 12 hours and 6 minutes.
The other records which are possible on this round the world are those of the Pacific Ocean, between Tasmania and Cape Horn, then that from Equator to Equator. There is also the record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours that Thomas beat during his last record attempt, where he devoured 628.51 miles at an average speed of 26.19 knots as he approached the Kerguelen Islands.
From Thomas Coville:
'Closing in on the Cape of Good Hope making peak speeds of over 30 knots in confused seas, the trimaran surfed off a wave in a gust reaching nearly 50 knots. At the bottom of the wave, all three hulls came to a halt and the boat was lifted up at the back until she was up standing upright on her bows.
'Next to that, the ‘bow-burying antics’ at the start of the trip were a joke,' said the skipper, who went on to explain how he found himself in the cockpit with the trimaran on the point of pitchpoling: 'My quick reactions meant that I dumped the sheet rather than using it to hold onto. When you actually go into a wave it’s like a dream!
'It’ll soon be four days that I’ve been in winds of over 30 knots with speeds which don’t allow you to put a foot wrong. In conditions like that it’s a different ball game sailing single-handed on a big boat like Sodebo. This morning there was too much wind to take in a third reef. As a front rolled through, the sea was white and dazzling. The rain and wind were bouncing off the water creating steam above the surface of the sea. When the boat surfs she generates such a disturbed flow that the leeward rudder ends up in the froth where I can no longer control it. I’m heading off into surfs, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before', explained Thomas today.'
* The Jules Verne Trophy is a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht with no restrictions on the size of the crew The trophy was first awarded to the first yacht which sailed around the world in less than 80 days. source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Verne_Trophy
** Francis Joyon's record was set three years ago at 57 days, 13 hours and 34 minutes and 6 seconds, on his maxi-trimaran IDEC.