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Approaching Equator on Mauritius Route

Published on October 25th, 2019

(October 25, 2019; Day 7) – Often unfortunate when passing through the Doldrums, such as when the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone forced IDEC SPORT to abandon its attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy two years ago, Francis Joyon is currently enjoying clear skies and a decent rate of progress upwind, while expecting to be slowed soon.

Joyon is gradually nearing the Equator, some 350 miles ahead of his bows this lunchtime and hopes to cross this imaginary line tomorrow, more than a day ahead of his Mauritius Route record from 2009. This is cheering up the skipper of IDEC SPORT, who is still 6000 miles from the finish. He can legitimately feel pleased about choosing the weather opportunity last weekend, as behind him huge areas of calm are developing around the Cape Verde Islands.

“We were right to set off last Saturday,” he insisted, praising the work done by his weather consultant, Christian Dumard. “Not only are calms developing behind us, but we have also avoided the thunderstorms developing around the south of Cape Verde and found a way through during the night on what was practically the direct route to the Equator.

“In the past, I have often been punished in the Doldrums. I can remember sailing there with a crew in the Jules Verne Trophy, where we experienced some terrible storms, pitch black skies, winds swinging around 360 degrees and incredibly violent thunderstorms. For the moment, I’m still advancing at almost ten knots and heading into the wind. I expect to be slowed down later today and during the night.”

After six days of racing, IDEC SPORT has kept a comfortable lead over the pace set by the second IDEC maxi trimaran, the Irens designed boat from 2007, aboard which Francis set the first reference time for the Mauritius Route. In 2009, Joyon crossed the Equator after 8 days, 5 hours and 9 minutes of racing, after covering 3350 miles at an average speed of 17 knots.

This time, six days after leaving Port Louis, he has sailed 3168 miles out on the water averaging 22 knots. “IDEC SPORT is really fast,” he explained. “But my previous IDEC did well in light airs and was easier to handle with her lighter sails making maneuvers easier.”

Joyon is making the most of the decent conditions as he approaches the Southern Hemisphere. This year, his wife, Virginie was in charge of fresh supplies and Joyon has not had to rely on freeze-dried food yet. “With these clear skies and relatively steady winds, I have been able to take some time out to sleep and recuperate, which is a luxury in this corner of the world, where usually, the winds are unstable in direction and strength and prevent you from getting any rest.

“The boat is in perfect condition and that too is something I’m really pleased about after this first week of sailing.”

For the record:
The Mauritius Route solo record is an 8800nm course from Port Louis (Lorient) and Port Louis (Mauritius), and Francis is attempting to smash his own reference time of 26 days, 4 hours and 13 minutes set ten years ago. To improve on that time, he will have to finish before 1324hrs UTC on November 14.

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IDEC SPORT Specifications
Architects: VPLP team (Van Péteghem-Lauriot Prévost)
Previous names: Groupama 3, Banque Populaire VII
Length: 31.50 m
Beam: 22.50 m
Displacement: 18,000 kg
Draught: 5.70 m
Mast height: 33.50 m
Structure: carbon-Nomex
Upwind sail surface: 411 m2
Downwind sail surface: 678 m2
Initial launch date: June 2006

After the Mauritius Route, there will be three more record attempts, this time with a crew:
Act 2: Mauritius – Ho Chi Minh (3975 miles),
Act 3: Ho Chi Minh – Hong Kong (920 miles)
Act 4: Clipper Route between Hong Kong and London (13,000 miles).

Source: IDEC press

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