Final Stretch for IDEC SPORT

Published on January 22nd, 2017

(January 22, 2017; Day 37; 22:00 FR) – Francis Joyon (FRA) and his five crew on the 31.5m VPLP-designed trimaran IDEC SPORT have been grinding up the miles in their bid to win the Jules Verne Trophy for fastest outright time around the world.

Yesterday, IDEC SPORT managed to leave the Doldrums, stretching out several hundred miles behind them. Taking a bold route, but which has paid off out to the west, Francis Joyon and his men, who were never entirely stopped have now overcome the final weather hurdle in their round the world voyage.

After a tricky night on chaotic seas, IDEC SPORT has found her wings again in the trade winds and is heading due north towards the south of the Azores at speeds averaging around 25 knots.

At the latitude of the Cape Verde Islands, the Doldrums are now in their wake and Francis Joyon, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Sébastien Audigane, Clément Surtel and Gwénolé Gahinet, looking for strong winds associated with an area of low pressure, are now expected back in Brest (Brittany) after finishing the Jules Verne Trophy on the morning of Thursday, January 26th.

While the latest simulations show the six sailors tackling the final phase of their round the world race today after 37 days at sea since leaving Ushant, this is not the time for unnecessary risks, as they are looking forward to success in one of the greatest maritime challenges aboard their 31m long red and grey maxi-trimaran.

“We’re not going to do anything silly. What we want now is to finish… “. With his voice sounding exhausted after a night with tiring wind and sea conditions, Sébastien Audigane told us what he could see and how things were looking on this Sunday in the North Atlantic. “We’re facing the Cape Verde Islands. We’re on the right route to get home. We’re reaching at 80 degrees from the wind. In around fifteen hours, the wind will swing around to offer us downwind sailing with a fairly direct route in a SSW’ly breeze.

Between now and the finish, we’re going to put our foot on the brake. Sometimes, it’s not easy, as multihulls are boats that accelerate quickly. We will have to be extra careful. But we aren’t expecting very nasty conditions. We have seen worse.”

The last few hours in the trade winds acted as a reminder that IDEC SPORT needs to be tamed at times to avoid taking risks and suffering damage. “’During the night, we had to slow down, as we ran into fairly heavy, boat-breaking seas coming straight at us. We had to reduce the speed by about ten knots going from thirty to twenty knots. Now we’re off again,” confirmed Francis Joyon, who with his wealth of experience, measures to what extent they have to find the right dose of being cautious, with the possibility of clocking up high speeds from today onwards.

At just under 2400 miles from the finish, IDEC SPORT is expected to move to downwind sailing in a fresh breeze tonight on the southern edge of the low, which is currently sweeping across the Atlantic. This is a strong, powerful flow, which is set to stay with them and allow them to “gallop” as Joyon said, more or less on the direct route back towards Ushant.

“We have to find a compromise about where to position ourselves in the low-pressure system. Our goal is to find the right place to get quite a lot of wind, but not too much swell,” added the skipper, who can rely on the help of Marcel van Triest, the onshore router and seventh man, to ensure the boat is in the right place and at the right time, as they begin this fast final strait to the finish line off the coast of Brittany.

“We are remaining very vigilant in terms of the equipment and the boat, but the feeling is upbeat on board. It is a relief to have passed the Doldrums, slowly but surely, as this zone is always a worrying one. Now we are all looking forward to getting back with our families and happy to get close to pulling off this major record,” added Francis Joyon.

According to the latest estimates, IDEC SPORT is expected to finish on Thursday between 0800 and 1300hrs UTC. The crew can count on the lead they built up over the miles, as they sailed around the world to attempt to smash the reference time set five years ago by Loïck Peyron and his crew of thirteen aboard the 40m long maxi-multihull, Banque Populaire V.

“This past week seems to have been never-ending, because of the low speeds. We were no longer used to normal speeds,” said Sébastien Audigane. “Fortunately, we’re off again now. We’ll soon be sailing downwind in strong winds and it looks like being a quick run to Ushant. We’re fully motivated,” he added. So the final dash is set to be sailed at high speeds as they make their way towards Brittany.

As they approach the final stretch of the record setting attempt, their latest 24 hour run of 603.99 nm has maintained their lead to 1258.52 nm (-0.91 nm) ahead of the current time set in January 2012 by Loïck Peyron and his crew on the 40 VPLP-designed trimaran Banque Populaire V of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.

Status as of 22:00 FR
Distance to Finish: 2346.93 nm
24 Hour Distance: 603.99 nm
24 Hour Speed Average: 25.2 knots
Ahead/Behind: +1258.52 nm


Note: The 24 hour speed record of 908.2 nm (37.84 knot average) was set in 2009 by Banque Populaire 5, a 131-foot trimaran skippered by Pascal Bidegorry (FRA).

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, starting and finishing between the Le Créac’h Lighthouse off the tip of Brittany and the Lizard Point in Cornwall.

After starting on November 16, Francis Joyon (FRA) and his five crew on the 31.5m VPLP-designed trimaran IDEC SPORT need to finish by 22:00:53 UTC on Monday January 30 to beat the current record set January 2012 by Loïck Peyron and his crew on the 40 VPLP-designed trimaran Banque Populaire V of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.

Francis Joyon, Gwenole Gahinet, Clement Surtel, Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Sebastien Audigane during the press conference of IDEC Sport prior to their 2nd attempt for the Jules Verne Trophy, crew circumnavigation non stop, on December 13th, 2016 in Paris - Photo Jean-Louis Carli / DPPI / IDEC

Francis Joyon (fourth from left) and his crew comprising Clément Surtel, Alex Pella, Bernard Stamm, Gwénolé Gahinet and Sébastien Audigane.

Jules Verne Trophy
Record to beat: 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds set by Loïck Peyron and his crew of 13 in January 2012 on the trimaran Banque Populaire V (40 m)
Average speed to beat: 19.75 knots
Course: around the world via the three capes, Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn.
Great circle distance: 21,600 miles
Start and finish line between Ushant (Créac’h Lighthouse and The Lizard (Cornwall).

IDEC SPORT trimaran
Trimaran with foils
Designers: VPLP
Previous names: Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII
Initial launch: June 2006
Length: 31.50 m
Beam: 22.50 m
Displacement: 15 t
Draught: 5.70 m
Mast height: 33.50 m
Structure: carbon-nomex


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