Joyon turns corner in record attempt
Published on November 3rd, 2019
(November 3, 2019; Day 16) – Francis Joyon and the 31.5m IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran crossed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope, often referred to as the Cape of Storms, this morning at 0454hrs UTC, after 14 days, 19 hours and 48 minutes of sailing.
In this record-setting attempt, he was 2 days, 19 hours and 51 minutes ahead of the time he set in 2009 on his first attempt at the 8800nm Mauritius Route between Port Louis (Brittany) and Port Louis (Mauritius).
This time was not the main goal for Joyon, for whom the Cape is a mere waypoint on a route that continues for another 2200 miles. The Cape of Storms earned its nickname because of the hellish weather conditions that can often be found in this part of the world.
Far from resting on his laurels, Francis is now more than ever focused on keeping his maxi trimaran in this powerful corridor of wind offering him high speeds, while avoiding the tricky Agulhas Current, which is one of the most dangerous in the world, as it flows in the opposite direction to the winds.
“I fought hard for this just as during major record attempts,” explained Joyon as he passed away from the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope. “This was a good time, particularly seeing the start took place with a weather opportunity that was far from being ideal, but we wanted to make the most of in order to stick to our ambitious schedule in the IDEC SPORT Asian Tour, which will take us all the way to Hong Kong.”
In order to round the St. Helena high, Joyon was forced to sail a long way west of the direct route during his second week of racing, extending the distance by more than 1600 miles. Once he had managed to hop onto the front of a powerful low-pressure system moving away from the coast of Argentina, he lived up to his reputation, clocking up more than 700nm or more a day, in spite of some horrendous seas with 20-foot high waves and averaging more than 27 knots.
“We cannot imagine what Francis is going through down in those latitudes,” noted Christian Dumard, Joyon’s weather consultant. “Maybe if we look at the stormy conditions at the tip of Brittany and in the English Channel, we can get a better idea of what he is having to deal with aboard his high-speed maxi-multihull.”
The skipper admitted that “the Cape of Good Hope is just a longitude on the map.” The hard work does not stop when that virtual line is crossed. With a series of perfectly timed gybes, Joyon has managed not only to position IDEC SPORT in a strong air stream with decent winds and a good angle, but has also managed to avoid the tarrying Agulhas current.
The current comes down from Mozambique at around 5 knots and which comes up against the prevailing westerlies, generating nasty seas, and occasionally what are referred to as rogue waves, which appear out of nowhere… This is certainly a tricky exercise dealing with contrary currents, winds in excess of thirty knots and waves that are higher than 30 feet off to his south.
Having sailed almost 8500 miles averaging 23.5 knots out on the water, Joyon has to keep up this mammoth task for another couple of days, before turning left and pointing his bows towards Mauritius. He will then have to deal with an area of high pressure and try to sail with the easterly wind on the beam towards the finish of this Mauritius Route with all its contrasts and dangers.
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.
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
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