Hunting for the Jules Verne Trophy

Published on December 2nd, 2019

(December 2, 2019) – This is round the world record season, as departures now from the northern hemisphere ensure transit through the southern latitudes during its summer season, which in relative terms, is the kindler-gentler time of year. However, in real terms, the weather remains evil, just a bit less so.

Among the classic aspirations is to achieve the Jules Verne Trophy, the round the world record that starts and finishes in Ushant, a French island at the south-western end of the English Channel, with the course leaving the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn) to port. The current record is held by Francis Joyon and his crew which in 2017 set the time of 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds on the 31.5m trimaran IDEC Sport.

Yann Guichard and his 11-man crew hope to better that time with the 40m Spindrift 2, aiming to start this new attempt on the night of December 3 and 4. Lining up in front of the Créac’h lighthouse (Ushant) to begin the 21,600 mile route, optimism comes from recent technical improvements to the black and gold trimaran, including setting rudder fins to better sustain Spindrift 2 at high speed.

Guichard and his crew have tried to beat the record on two previous occasions: in 2015 (47d 10h 59′) and in 2018 (where the team was forced to abandon their attempt following rudder failure close to the Kergulen Islands). However, once again, the North Atlantic now has a favorable weather window that could allow a passage to the equator in about five days.

“We will start from La Trinité tomorrow morning to cross the starting line of the Jules Verne Trophy at Ushant between 18:00 on Tuesday and 6:00 on Wednesday (Dec. 3-4),” explained Guichard. “Once we see how the weather is evolving, we will be able to refine this window.

“The conditions are quite good… we should be able to leave the eastern sector in the Bay of Biscay with a moderate breeze and then we will benefit from trade winds that will strengthen to the north of Portugal. We will have make some gybes to get to Madeira before performing our swoop down into the doldrums.”

But if the descent to the Equator looks favorable, the round the world record can still be lost at the Cape of Good Hope off South Africa. Spindrift 2 already holds the fastest time between Ushant and the Equator made during the second attempt in early 2019 (4d 20h 07 ‘), but it is the ability to improve the reference time to the Cape of Good Hope and arrive at the Indian Ocean with time in hand that is critical.

Joyon had an extremely fast crossing of this second ocean in 2017 (5d 21h 07 ‘). Spindrift 2 must therefore keep to an average speed of about 23 knots to South Africa, to ensure that there is enough margin on the reference time to start the next section.

“The doldrums seem more favorable to the East as we have seen during the recent Transat Jacques Vabre and Brest Atlantiques,” shared Guichard. “To get into the Southern Hemisphere in good shape, we hope to pass the Cape of Good Hope in less than thirteen days, which would allow us to be ahead of Francis Joyon’s time.

“While it is still a bit far out, we can already see that the South Atlantic is not closed and we could hook into a depression off Brazil to arrive on South Africa quite quickly.

“We will leave with conditions more pleasant than usual, and the day after the start, it will not be as cold … It is a fairly standard route but we hope it will be rather fast – to the equator at least!”

Crew list:
Yann Guichard – skipper
Erwan Israël – navigator
Jacques Guichard – watch leader / helm
Jackson Bouttell – helm / bow
Thierry Chabagny – helm
Grégory Gendron – helm
Xavier Revil – watch leader / helm
Corentin Horeau – helm / bow
François Morvan – helm
Duncan Späth – helm
Erwan Le Roux – watch leader / helm
Benjamin Schwartz – helm / bow

The rules for the Jules Verne Trophy are simple – it is for the fastest time around the world by any type of yacht with no restrictions on the size of the crew, starting and finishing from the exact line between the Le Créac’h Lighthouse off the tip of Brittany and the Lizard Point in Cornwall. It was first won in 1993, with all nine winners as either catamarans or trimarans. The current challenge is to beat the record time of 40 days 23 hours 30 minutes and 30 seconds set by Francis Joyon on IDEC SPORT in 2017.

Record Facts
• Start and finish: a line between Créac’h lighthouse (Isle of Ushant) and Lizard Point (England)
• Course: non-stop around-the-world tour racing without outside assistance via the three Capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn)
• Minimum distance: 21,600 nautical miles (40,000 kilometres)
• Ratification: World Sailing Speed Record Council,
• Time to beat: 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds
• Average speed: 21.96 knots
• Date of current record: January 2017
• Holder: IDEC SPORT, Francis Joyon and a 5-man crew

Split Time References – Full Crew:
Ushant-Equator: 4d 20h 07 ‘(Spindrift 2 in 2019)
Equator-Cape Aiguilles: 6d 08h 55 ‘(Banque Populaire V in 2012)
Cape Aiguilles-Cape Leeuwin: 4d 09h 32 ‘(IDEC Sport in 2017)
Cape Leuuwin-Cape Horn: 9d 08h 46 ‘(IDEC Sport in 2017)
Cape Horn-Equator: 7d 04h 27 ‘(Banque Populaire V in 2012)
Equator-Ushant: 5d 19h 21 ‘(IDEC Sport in 2017)

Here are the nine that have held the trophy:
2017 – Francis Joyon / IDEC SPORT (31.5m) – 40:23:30:30
2012 – Loïck Peyron / Banque Populaire V (40m) – 45:13:42:53
2010 – Franck Cammas / Groupama 3 (31.5m) – 48:07:44:52
2005 – Bruno Peyron / Orange II (36.8m) – 50:16:20:04
2004 – Olivier De Kersauson / Geronimo (33.8m) – 63:13:59:46
2002 – Bruno Peyron / Orange (32.8m) – 64:08:37:24
1997 – Olivier De Kersauson / Sport-Elec (27.3m) – 71:14:22:08
1994 – Peter Blake, Robin Knox-Johnston / Enza New Zealand (28m) – 74:22:17:22
1993 – Bruno Peyron / Commodore Explorer (28m) – 79:06:15:56

Source: Spindrift Racing, Scuttlebutt

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