Picking Path Around the Azores High
Published on December 21st, 2016
(December 21, 2016; Day 44, 21:53 UTC) – Thomas Coville (FRA) and his 31m maxi trimaran Sodebo Ultim’ is still on a northerly course, now north of the Canary Islands, but has yet to make the turn east toward the finish between France and England. His latest 24 hour run of 569.9 nm has his margin increasing to 2619.9 nm (+30 nm) ahead of the current record pace of 57d 13h 34m 6s set by Francis Joyon (FRA) on the 29.8m trimaran IDEC in January 2008.
Coville still has to bypass the Azores anticyclone that spreads to the west of the Azores and bar the direct route to Ushant. The position of the center of this famous zone is difficult to determine, but the routings seem to agree that the fastest route will not be the shortest. Despite this unknown, the date of passage of the finish line seems to be clear: between December 25 in the evening and the 26 in the end of the day.
“This stretch between the latitude of Cape Verde and that of the Canary Islands is not the funniest part of this round the world. You’re facing the sea, it’s very wet. As soon as I put my nose out, I equip myself because it gets wet. For two days, the weather is very unstable with irregular winds and a lot of grains. In temperature it is good but it has well refreshed.
“The most difficult issue is not to accelerate the boat but to slow it down, because facing the sea, you can break everything. It’s technically difficult, so I sleep very little. Mentally this is not very pleasant. But I was expecting it because it is not my first time. Every time I make this ascent, it’s a good reminder.
“This trade-wind is the most desert period in which the least thing happens. When you do it in the direction of the descent towards the West Indies, it is rather nice but in the ascent it is very unpleasant. I like the light of the evening trade. It is the moment when I give myself a tea on the bridge and in wax.
“Fortunately I have no physical problem, no tendinitis, it is proof that I hydrate well. I am not hurt and that is an important point. I certainly lost some weight, I feel like cotton. Considering all that I give as energy, I must have certain deficiencies. I love to maneuver and I usually do it well, but I can see that I am slower, that the maneuvers last longer. I did not spare myself much.
“With Sodebo Ultim it takes a tremendous reactivity to cross the weather systems. This is the first time anyone has ever ventured around the world with such a large boat with such heavy sails. Filled with water, the front sails are between 110 and 120 kilos, or even more. The strengths and advantages that I gained the maximum in the descent to Cape Horn, I now pay them. Physically this is the other side of the coin. I could have agreed to be slower by telling myself to do less maneuvers and miss a system, but I did not make that choice, so we’ll see if it was the right one.
Background: Thomas Coville (FRA) and the 31m maxi trimaran SODEBO ULTIM started the attempt to break the solo round the world record from Brest (France) on November 6. The current record of 57d 13h 34m 6s, which starts and finishes between the island of Ushant and Lizard Point in southern England, was set by Francis Joyon (FRA) on the 29.8m trimaran IDEC in January 2008. To break the record, Coville must finish by January 3 at 4:23:57 am (French time).
Source: Team Sodebo