The Horses Are On The Track

Published on October 21st, 2015

The Jules Verne Trophy is a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht with no restrictions on the size of the crew. No limits, just go for it… exactly what two trimaran teams are ready to do,  both now waiting for the perfect weather to beat the current record of 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes 53 seconds.

Francis Joyon (FRA) will be skippering the 31.5m VPLP-designed IDEC SPORT, which was launched in 2006 as Groupama 3 and later rebranded as Banque Populaire 7 and most recently as Lending Club 2. The boat previously set the record in 2010 with Franck Cammas at 48d 7h 44m 52s.


Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard will be skippering the 40m VPLP-designed Spindrift 2, which was launched in 2008 as Banque Populaire 5. In 2012, Loick Peyron set the current record on this boat.


Only six people will sail on IDEC SPORT compared to fourteen on the larger Spindrift 2. Both boats know the track. The trick is when to start.

Stan Honey, who set the record with Cammas, explains the situation:

“The forecasts these days are computed for 15 days. They are extremely good for 3 days, reasonably good for 6 days, and then increasingly dicey beyond that. They are pretty much useless beyond 8 or 9 days.

“From the start in Ouessant to the Equator, the record is 5 days, 15 hours, so one can absolutely pick one’s weather for the first portion of the Jules Verne to the equator. There is no reason not to start a Jules Verne with a near-record passage to the equator, unless you are starting very late in the season and have to get going before the end of the season.

“For the navigator, it is impossible to resist looking at the forecast 9+ days out to gain insight at the structure of the St Helena High in the South Atlantic. This is a notorious hurdle on the course, so it is quite comforting when the forecast looks good.

“Of course, if it looks bad, most navigators will be reluctant to pass up a terrific start since the 9 day forecast for the South Atlantic will probably change anyway.”

The Jules Verne Trophy’s starting point is defined by an imaginary line between the Créac’h lighthouse on Ouessant (Ushant) Island, France, and the Lizard Lighthouse, UK. The course from there is simple…circumnavigate the world leaving the capes of Good Hope, Leeuwin, and Horn to port before crossing the starting line in the opposite direction to finish.

The name of the award is a reference to the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days in which Phileas Fogg traverses the planet (albeit by railroad and steamboat) in 80 days. The trophy was first awarded to the first yacht which sailed around the world in less than 80 days.

That recipient was Bruno Peyron on the 85-foot catamaran Commodore Explorer, which set the first mark in 1993 at 79d 6h 15m 56s. The next recipient will need to survive a month and a half at a 20 knot average. Game on!

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