Francis Joyon arrives in Vietnam
Published on December 4th, 2019
(December 4, 2019) – Francis Joyon and his crew on the 31.5m IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran completed Act 2 of the IDEC SPORT ASIAN TOUR, establishing a reference time for the 3975nm route between Mauritius and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
After setting a new solo record time for the Mauritius Route last month, the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy and winner of the last Route du Rhum arrived in Vietnam this morning after 12 days, 20 hours, 37 minutes and 56 seconds at sea.
Francis Joyon left Mauritius on November 21 accompanied by Christophe Houdet, Bertrand Delesne, Antoine Blouet, and his son Corentin to set a new reference time on a highly unusual route for modern ocean racers taking them from Mauritius to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saïgon) across the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.
Due to weather systems, the team sailed 5400 miles experiencing high speeds, periods of flat calm conditions, the long swell of the southern latitude, the nasty choppy seas in the enclosed China and Java Seas, a maritime desert and busy shipping routes, the freezing cold of the Antarctic and the unbearable heat of Indonesia.
It was certainly a big adventure as expected by the five sailors, who were hypnotized by the marvels and unusual sights of the seascapes of the Far East.
The key idea in this 27,000-mile long Asian Tour was to look after the boat and equipment, as they sailed far from any accessible pit stop. They therefore attempted to favor downwind sailing as much as possible, preferring speed over the shortest route. The 3000 miles separating Mauritius from the south of Sumatra turned into 4200 miles of sailing with the wind on the beam in the NE’ly trade winds in the Indian Ocean.
Averaging almost 23 knots out on the water, they achieved several remarkable days of almost 750 miles in 24 hours without seeing the boat suffer and enjoying the experience of the Southern Ocean. Francis Joyon reached Indonesia on the eighth day of racing.
But the powerful head currents along the coast of Sumatra, associated with the total absence of wind, caused the maxi trimaran to plunge into an abyss of extremely slow speeds.
“We fought hard for three days to avoid drifting backwards,” explained Francis. With a mixture of curiosity, fascination and the permanent need to watch out for unexpected squalls, fishing boats, islands and fishing huts on stilts in the middle of the sea, the crew of IDEC SPORT had to use all their physical resources to make any headway and get away from this wind hole.
“The oppressive heat really surprised us as it suddenly arrived without any warning,” said Bertrand Delesne, the boat captain of IDEC SPORT. “It was impossible to sleep, as inside the boat it was like an oven. We tried in turns to grab a few minutes rest lying on the nets.”
Sailing upwind and carrying out manoeuvre after manoeuvre and changing sails with each change in the light airs around the islands of Bangka and Belitung, the men on IDEC SPORT were astounded by the experience and managed to get away from the Karimata Strait sailing close to the coast of Borneo. The result was they only covered 550 miles in three days.
It was as they approached the Natuna Islands to the NW of Borneo, that the Indonesia mist was replaced by more familiar skies for Joyon and his men, with squally showers and wind. Once again, this all happened very suddenly with the wind getting up to almost thirty knots. More than ever, the watchword aboard the boat was vigilance with the need to look after the equipment.
“IDEC SPORT was launched in 2006,” stressed Bertrand Delesne, “and we hate to see her suffer.” It was a bumpy road ahead for the magnificent trimaran over the final 500 miles in the China Sea. “Waves in excess of 12 feet heading straight for us made the boat leap up and down in every direction,” added Francis. “It was impossible to sleep inside. We bounced up nine inches or so as we lay in our bunks.”
Wisely, Francis swung the boat around to tackle the waves and wind on the beam in order to look after his faithful boat. There remained the final stretch in the Indonesian Peninsula. Once again, the tired crew faced light airs and were forced to deal with all the surprises in these busy waters where there is very little order.
Francis wisely decided to wait until they sun started to rise before pointing the bows of his giant trimaran in between the junks and sampans towards Vung Tau, the large trading port to the south of Ho Chi Minh City.
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
IDEC SPORT ASIAN TOUR
Act 1: Port Louis, Lorient – Port Louis, Mauritius (8800 nm) – 19:18:14:45
Act 2: Mauritius – Ho Chi Minh (3975 nm)
Act 3: Ho Chi Minh – Hong Kong (920 nm)
Act 4: Clipper Route between Hong Kong and London (13,000 nm).
Source: IDEC press