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Jule Verne Trophy- Banque Populaire drops 300nm off record pace

by Brian Thompson on 2 Jan 2012
Photo envoyée du bord - Jour 40 - Bonne Année - Banque Populaire V - Passage de l’Equateur - Day 40, 1 January 2012 BPCE

On Day 41, of her non stop circumnavigation attempt, the maxi trimaran, Banque Populaire, has dropped from being 1400nm ahead of the record time to being 1100nm ahead of Groupama's mark, at the same points in time after the start of the dash around the planet.

English crew member, Brian Thompson updates on the last three day's sailing

Day 40: 'Hope everyone is having a Good New Years Day. We have decided to spend our day off....sailing.
So it's been 40 days and 40 nights at sea, and we are just 2600 miles from the start/finish line. We have a lead of 2000 miles over the current record holder, on the same day. And we are heading for the Continent at 35 knots.
What could be more perfect? However, eagle eyed followers of the Banque Pop tracker may notice just one tiny detail that is wrong..we are heading for the wrong continent!

A Boston finish is just not going to be acceptable to the Jules Verne committee. So why are we heading for the New World, instead of the Old ?


Near the Azores there is going to be a great expanse of light winds associated with the High Pressure, and therefore we are having to head well West to catch the wind from an approaching low pressure system that arrives from the the West. Then ride that wind all the way around the High Pressure to the finish. It's the Long Route, but it's our best option. At least with the speed of Banque Populaire we can position ourselves quickly around the oceans weather systems. We are rather like a surfer who has to paddle out further offshore as a big set arrives..it's going to be worth it - when that atmospheric wave arrives..

On deck it's great conditions, we are sailing at 120 TWA in 28 knots of wind With the staysail and one reef in the main. The sun is shining and it's a pleasure to steer the boat at 30-40 knots of speed.



We are at the latitude of Antigua, but it's not shorts and T shirt sailing on board today..We need full on protection from the flying spray, so we are wearing our Musto foul weather top and trousers, and donning Gath surf helmets to be able to look forwards..

The spray flies off the front of the central hull each time it lands back in the water, then divides around the front beam and flies back horizontally to hit the cockpit area..for the big lumps of water, it's worth ducking, as the force in the water can knock you backwards..

With the surf helmet, which is like a light motorbike helmet, you gain a lot more vision for helming without the spray firing into your eyes, but you do lose out on 2 others senses, that of hearing, you miss out on what others are saying around you, and of touch, feeling the wind speed on your face..

But it's a deal well worth making..


Now we are concentrating on intercepting that low pressure and riding it till the finish..

New Years Eve went well last night, no wild nights for anyone, but we did add to our normal freezedried food with some pate de foie gras and some saucisson to start..Day 40 on Cheyenne, the big catamaran that we set the RTW record in 58 days, with Steve Fossett, we were just rounding Cape Horn, on St Patricks Day.. On Day 40 of the Vendee Globe solo race, I was somewhere south of Australia..

It's good to be on Banque Populaire!'

Brian

Day 39: 'Another year draws to a close and on board Banque Populaire we are hoping the beginning of 2012 is better than the end of 2011! Because since we left the doldrums, we have been reaching in 30 + knots of wind, with a lumpy sea state. Not much fun, and we have reduced sail to 2 reefs and the ORC, which is a large storm jib sail.

A few hundred miles up the track the Tradewinds are less strong so come 2012, we should be in much better conditions.

Not much sleeping possible as you are thrown around in your bunk by the boats motion so much, but the off watch are at least getting some horizontal time, interspersed with moments of vertical movement!

Going on watch in a few minutes, and dawn will follow soon afterwards, so the will be able to see these waves better, and try to avoid the potholes..

Just time for another bowl of hot porridge, to mark our position on the wall chart, and put on the Musto foul weather gear, then into action!

Happy New Year!'

Day 38: ' Hey, great watch' exclaims the always ebullient Yvon as we go below after our 4 hours on deck. 'Really great watch' adds Thierry Chab and Pym, my other two watch mates.

We normally say that between our gang of four unless the seas are terrible, or we make few miles to the finish, or we have to deal with squall after all squall during our watch. We always try to finish on a high note..

But this watch was extra good, we had flat seas, good winds, made more than a 100 miles to the finish AND we crossed the Equator, moving ourselves from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere, and in the process, breaking two records..


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 Mumm 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 from the saucisson and the Toblerone, all being shared between the crew and that God of the Sea.

So we have broken another World Record too, the Equator to Equator record, and one of the Jules Verne passage records, Cape Horn to Equator.

Now we have the task of getting to the finish in the next 10 days. Its 3300 miles, point to point..Of course, it's entirely within our capabilities to do that, but we still need to be careful with the boat, not have any big roadblocks with the weather and have a healthy dose of good luck..

Currently we have an advance of 1500 miles on Groupama 3, the current Jules Verne record holder..

Brian

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