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Solo sailor circumnavigator still can't take a trick

by Nancy Knudsen on 5 Mar 2011
Sodebo’s course - showing how far behind - and how far north - he is compared to current record holder Francis Joyon’s position at the same stage of his journey .. .
French solo sailor Thomas Coville, trying to be the fastest to sail around the world solo, just can't seem to take a trick.

It's the weather - but isn't that all the time?

Weather is god on the ocean, and sometimes it's just weather-luck that makes the difference between a mundane voyage and a spectacular one.


This time it's the ice - inclement winds and currents have caused a giant area of ice in the eastern Pacific section of the Southern Ocean to make him climb north, and further north and still further north, making his voyage so long that he's lost valuable time. He was constantly unlucky early in his voyage as well, with systems lining up against him, putting him many days behind a circumnavigation record, currently held by fellow Frenchman Francis Joyon on IDEC.

Now all the hard work carried out earlier in the week to claw back 200 miles on Francis Joyon and IDEC have been lost over the last 48 hours as Sodebo has been forced to climb north to avoid the giant area of ice in the eastern Pacific section of the Southern Ocean.

Over the last two days Sodebo has slowly been ascending back up towards 50°S to avoid the ice to her south and only mid-morning yesterday levelled out her trajectory as the most northerly reach of the icebergs, according to the satellite images, is believed to be at around 120°E. However in taking this course Sodebo is having to sail more miles than IDEC which at this point was some 200 miles to her south.

Sodebo's course has also taken her closer to an area of high pressure than her skipper would like. According to Coville conditions at present are shifty, the wind up and down, requiring frequent sail changes while the sea is confused due to the recent passage of a depression to his south.

Looking ahead at the weather for the 2000 or so miles Coville has left to sail before reaching Cape Horn, while the proximity of ice could allow him to spear off to the south again today, it is unlikely he will do so as tomorrow as a depression is set to set up shop to the south of him bringing with it gale force westerlies.

The good news is that this could also allow Coville to regain some speed and some miles. This depression is forecast to propel Sodebo all the way to Cape Horn by around Tuesday next week allowing fast speed, but due the positioning of its centre it appears that Sodebo's route to Cape Horn will have to remain a northerly one.

Good luck Thomas, we'll all be wishing you good weather fortune from now on!

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