Better days ahead for Gabart

Published on November 21st, 2017

(November 21, 2017; Day 18, 22:00 FR) – François Gabart is still in the lead by about one and a half days in relation to the Thomas Coville’s time, the current holder of the singlehanded round the world record.

The skipper of the 30m trimaran MACIF hopes to pick up speed again this evening, after being forced to sail south to re-position himself in front of a low-pressure area, which slowed him down slightly and meant that he has had to watch out for ice floes. He should pass under Cape Leeuwin off Australia between Thursday and Friday, November 23-24.

After entering the Indian Ocean on Thursday (Nov. 16), Gabart had initially planned to position himself behind a low-pressure area and let himself be sucked along by it as far as Australia. But this strategy had to be adjusted at the end of the weekend as the low-pressure area had not developed in the way he had hoped.

“It was not moving out of the way properly. It was spreading and blocking our passage. So, we chose to re-position ourselves in the south to recover the wind again which is beginning to lift.”

This derailed the MACIF trimaran’s trajectory which had been fairly straight up until then, but a southerly course down to a latitude of 54°50, less than 800 miles from Antarctica, was needed.

Still located today in a very southerly position (53°50), the MACIF trimaran has passed to the south of the Kerguelen Islands though is now climbing to the north in search of the wind he’s expecting to meet and to gain some distance on the dangers that lurk to the south.

“Icebergs have been detected quite close by, north east of Heard Island (a very small island located 50° south). As a precaution, I am sailing round by the north and the idea is to set a 70-80 course (East North East) in the 24 to 36 hours to come, which will bring us back towards the latitude of the Kerguelen Islands, 48-50° North. We’re going to try and go around to give ourselves a little margin. I hope that I’m not going to stay too long in this area, because it’s a little tricky. It’s nice to come here, but it’s also nice to leave!”

Gabart is now 707.98 nm ahead of the record pace after covering 599.2 nm in the past 24 hours.

Only three sailors to date (Francis Joyon, Ellen MacArthur, Thomas Coville) have ever held the record. After his start on November 4, to beat the record of 49 days, 3 hours, 4 minutes and 28 seconds held by Coville since December 25, 2016, Gabart will need to cross the finishing line (between Créac’h lighthouse, in Ouessant (Ushant), and the Lizard Point lighthouse in Cornwall, England) before 13.09 on December 23 (French time, UTC+1).

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