Barely a week of racing has passed and there is already positive news for Maxi Banque Populaire V. After crossing the equator at 00 hours 26 minutes and 52 seconds (Paris time) last night, after five days 14 hours 55 minutes and 10 seconds* at sea, Loick Peyron and his crew are now the fastest in the history of the Trophy for this particular section. A record that is a good omen for what is next, promising to be just as fluid on the approach of St. Helena.
After six days of racing since leaving Ushant, the Banque Populaire crew already holds a record. Precautious a few hours before, when it came to assessing the performance to Equator, the crew of the maxi trimaran just broke down the few barriers that might exist, bringing to five days 14 hours 55 minutes and 10 seconds the absolute reference time on this section thus improving the best time held by Groupama 3 since 2009.
Even if Loïck Peyron and his men have, since their entry into the game, recalled the 'anecdotal' nature of this time, the atmosphere on board when the virtual line was crossed showed a sincere appreciation. Contacted during the daily radio vac with Race HQ at the premises of the French Sailing Federation, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant came back on the traditional ceremony surrounding the event:
'We were lucky to get a special party organized by Xavier Revil. It was mainly for Ronan Lucas’ 'Noddy', a small toy given to him by his son before leaving and was not yet inducted. It was finally the only rookie on board! We were a bit nervous to try to break down the record and conditions as the routings helped us a lot. Even the clouds did not stop us much.'
So no hazing for sailors, for a first small victory that will have let expectantly Marcel van Triest and the weather unit for some time, as evoked by the shore router: 'It was a bit tight for beat the record. We indeed do not break it with a lot of advance. It looked very feasible at the time of the Canaries and Cape Verde, but the doldrums we face were very active and long. Thus, if reaching the time of Groupama 3 in 2010 was more or less acquired, it was not the case for the record time.' Improved by half an hour, the new reference time between Ushant and Equator becomes the property of the Maxi Banque Populaire V.
On top of the celebration brought by this news, the following also looks enviable for the crew. The famous St. Helena anticyclone, a southern match of the Azores’, appears under the best conditions. Currently at 220 miles off the Brazilian coast in a South-East wind, the Maxi Banque Populaire V sailing conditions are relatively uncomfortable for men - the sea coming upfront the bow - but still allow the machine to display some satisfactory speed. In a few hours, the setting will change, to the delight of all, as explained this afternoon by Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant:
'The wind begins to rotate a bit. We'll gradually go around the anticyclone. It's going to become more comfortable and it will be easier to sleep. We are not sailing tailwind yet so we have the sea movements facing the boat which makes us wriggling in all directions. But we all know it won’t last, that it will get better by tomorrow. So we just bear with it. For now, the weather is wonderful. These are the trade winds in Brazil '. Marcel van Triest to add:
'At that time, which is relatively early, the St. Helena anticyclone is quite south, although strong and big, but we have good circulation around it. We cannot cut cheese but we will have good conditions to do the trick. The wind will gradually turn around and become East, North / East getting near the anticyclone. We have no particular concerns. '
With the Equator behind them, Loïck Peyron and his crew should thus have an open road in front of them for the descent of the Atlantic. Going around the anticyclone of St. Helena should even appear of almost a formality. And about the transition to Good Hope, Team Banque Populaire’s router wanted to be particularly clear and optimistic: 'I see us passing the Cape of Good Hope in the thirteen days for sure, maybe in the twelve and a half days ... '
* Subject to validation by the WSSRC
Banque Populaire website