Thomas Coville, earlier lagging behind in his attempt to be the fastest solo sailing adventurer around the world because of contrary wind and weather, is still in there with a chance. He has just rounded the Horn with great excitement and in good shape, and is now on target to achieve a new record.
To explain, when heading into battle with the Pacific, Tom set himself the objective of having a deficit of less than 1,000 miles at Cape Horn before taking on the climb up the Atlantic in psychologically more comfortable conditions than he had four years ago, where he had a deficit of 4 days.
On crossing the longitude of Cape Horn on 8th March, he had a deficit of 687 miles in relation to Idec. As such he still has everything to play for. Francis Joyon had to slow down the other side of Cape Horn to repair his boat. Thomas’ boat is apparently in perfect condition with the exception of two mainsail battens which were snapped in a broach a few days ago. As regards the physical challenge represented by the 7,000 miles left to go, this doesn’t seen to be a concern for the skipper of Sodebo.
Not that it's been all clear sailing. Just a few hours before, the solo sailor was tackling a storm; a real squall with 6 to 8 metre waves and wind gusting to 50 knots: 'At times like that,' admitted Tom, 'You feel very small I can tell you.'
It was night and using his instinct alone, he had put a third reef in the mainsail. 'Nothing was forcing me to do it,' he explains. Doubtless this is the survival instinct and experience that kicks in above all else.
Indeed all those who sail around the world confirm it: though the Pacific is the largest ocean in the world, it’s also the most fearsome with its violent winds that never let up as they circle the Antarctic accompanied by ferocious waves picked up by ocean trenches measuring over 10,000 metres.
Thomas Coville is attempting to break the Jules Verne Trophy 'solo' record currently held by fellow French solo sailor Francis Joyon on IDEC since 2005.
Coville, skipper of Sodebo, crossed the start line on Saturday 29 January 2011, at 11h07'28' UTC and will need to be back in Brest, France by 28 March at 0h40'34' UTC to claim a new record.