Francis Joyon crossed the Equator on Thursday at 12 h 23 (GMT). In so doing, his maxi trimaran IDEC set a new record time for a single-handed yachtsman, as it will only have taken him 48 days, 02 hours and 18 minutes to cover the 18,400 miles (great circle distance) from the start back in Brest on the 23rd November.
At this precise moment in his epic voyage, Francis is 12 days, 11 hours and 17 minutes ahead of Ellen Mac Arthur’s record time from 2004.
Pushed along by a trade wind punctuated by a few squalls, which give an indication that the Doldrums are not far away, IDEC today had her best day since rounding the Horn, clocking up 533 miles. Achieving an average of more than 22 knots over the last 24 hours, Joyon has just crossed the symbolic line separating the two hemispheres, with her daggerboards up, as is the tradition for multihulls, to stop the appendages getting snagged on the famous line.
As the wind came around, by luffing, Francis was able to get back precisely on the direct route towards Brest, where his round the world voyage will end. 'It really feels like on my way home now,' he admitted, while getting ready to face the Doldrums once again. 'I know the North Atlantic like the back of my hand, as I have already crossed it 25 times. That really makes the finish seem that bit closer.'
However, the skipper of IDEC is not showing any impatience. His desire to achieve the most amazing new round the world record remains intact and today he remains concentrated on finding the right trajectory through the calms or the squalls in the Doldrums. 'I know I won’t be getting much sleep over the next 24 hours' he stressed. 'The Intertropical Convergence Zone is moving northwards and I don’t have any time to lose, if I want to avoid it.'
The next stage of the voyage looks fairly classic for this part of the planet at this time of year. 'The north easterly trades appear to be well established,' continued Francis. 'I shall have to find the perfect compromise between the wind angle and trajectory to find the best route towards the westerly flow, which is well in place at the moment to the north of the Azores...'
The port rudder that caused a few worries yesterday is now attached once again to the central helm. Alternating according to changes in the wind between staysail and solent, the large red trimaran is on the final leg of her incredible round the world voyage. There were fewer than 3200 miles separating Francis from the finish at midday today, 'A little transatlantic run' joked Francis, who did after all win the single-handed Transat in 2000... Reminder of the records already set by the IDEC trimaran:
Start from Brest: Friday 23rd November at 10h 05’ 52' GMT
Brest / Equator : 06 days, 16 hours and 58 minutes
Brest / Cape of Good Hope: 15 days, 7 hours and 16 minutes
Brest / Cape Leeuwin : 22 days, 15 hours and 28 minutes
Brest / Cape Horn : 35 days, 12 hours and 36 minutes
Brest / Equator : 48 days, 2 hours and 18 minutes
Indian Ocean record: 09 days, 12 hours and 03 minutes*
Pacific Ocean record: 10 days, 14 hours and 30 minutes*
*Awaiting ratification by the WSSRC http://www.trimaran-idec.com