Spindrift: Bleeding Miles
Published on December 23rd, 2015
(December 23, 2015; Day 32) – Since the 40m maxi-trimaran Spindrift 2 rounded the third great cape in her circumnavigation, wind speeds and directions have been unstable. The weather situation in the South Atlantic is as complex as it is unpredictable.
A large cell with very little wind at the tip of South America had split into several bubbles that moved randomly like in a glass of sparkling water… so off the Falkland Islands this Wednesday morning, Spindrift 2 was constantly switching between accelerating to more than 20 knots then slowing to 10 knots.
On today’s agenda is to catch a dying front to the north of these South Atlantic islands before picking up an Argentinian low off the Gulf of San Jorge, so the crew can expect a busy day on deck to get through these arduous 200 miles as quickly as possible so that Spindrift 2 can return to her normal blistering pace.
Christmas Eve should be a fast day, but the situation further up the route to the equator is less clear. Small low-pressure systems with small pressure gradients and little activity will sit in the way off Mar del Plata and Porto Alegre, making the next three days difficult to predict.
The team will have to thread Spindrift 2 through the eye of a needle formed by these two unstable weather systems. One minute they will be sailing downwind, and the next they will face light headwinds. They will have to zig-zag around calm areas and avoid the fronts of storms all the way up to Cabo Frio, at the latitude of Rio de Janeiro, just over 1,500 miles away.
Given the conditions that lie ahead, much of the lead (18h 11m, or 530 miles) at Cape Horn will gradually whither away until the crew reach the warmer climes of the tropics. Their ability to hook onto every last gust of wind, change course in response to the weather bubbles, stay focused, and observe contrasts in the clouds will determine how much time they lose before reaching the trade winds fuelled by the St. Helena High.
The crew has lost 273 nm of their lead on the record in the past 24 hours, and expect to continue to lose ground over the next two days, but exactly how much remains unclear. Nevertheless, they are still in a strong position to beat the Jules Verne Trophy record, but this Christmas Eve promises to be the most nerve-wracking day for the fourteen members of the black and gold outfit.
As of 2100 UTC
Distance to finish: 6510.8 nm
Distance for 24 hours: 350.2 nm
Distance ahead of record: 106.82 nm
Source: Spindrift 2
Background: Spindrift 2 has entered to claim the Jules Verne Trophy, a prize for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by any type of yacht with no restrictions on the size of the crew, starting and finishing between the Le Créac’h Lighthouse off the tip of Brittany and the Lizard Point in Cornwall.
Yann Guichard (FRA), skippering the 40 VPLP-designed trimaran, crossed the start line on November 22 at 04:01:58 GMT, and his 14-man team must return by 17:43:51 UTC on January 6, 2016 to beat the current record set January 2012 by Loïck Peyron and his crew on Banque Populaire 5 of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
Spindrift 2 was originally launched in 2008 as Banque Populaire 5.
MORE: Also starting on November 22 (at 02:02:22 GMT) for an attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy was Francis Joyon (FRA), skippering the 31.5m VPLP-designed trimaran IDEC SPORT. The 6-person team must return by 15:44:15 GMT on January 6, 2016 to beat the record. Here’s a tracker showing both teams: http://volodiaja.net/Tracking/
SPINDRIFT 2 CREW:
Yann Guichard, skipper
Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer
Sébastien Audigane, helmsman-trimmer
Antoine Carraz, helmsman-trimmer
Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman-trimmer
Christophe Espagnon, helmsman-bowman
Jacques Guichard, helmsman-trimmer
Erwan Israël, navigator
Loïc Le Mignon, helmsman-trimmer
Sébastien Marsset, bowman
François Morvan, helmsman-trimmer
Xavier Revil, helmsman-trimmer
Yann Riou, media reporter
Thomas Rouxel, helmsman-bowman
Jean-Yves Bernot, onshore router