Tea Route: Eager for the turn

Published on January 29th, 2020

(January 29, 2020; Day 12) – With a lead this morning of more than 770 miles over the Tea Route record holder, Francis Joyon and his team on the 31.5m IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran can hope to round the symbolic mark of the Cape of Good Hope in four days time, so just under 15 days along the 13,000 mile course from Hong Kong to London.

In some particularly tricky weather conditions, with the transitions between weather systems making it tough for his crew of four, Joyon has traced a good trajectory across the deserted Southern Indian Ocean. The Atlantic is calling with the promise of some downwind sailing, which should be ideal to step up the pace and increase the lead over the record pace.

IDEC SPORT has emerged from a very tough 48 hours with a substantial lead over her virtual rival, the holder of the Tea Route record. “We took advantage of a calm at dawn on the day before yesterday to change our mainsail halyard,” explained Joyon. “Antoine Blouet climbed to the top of the mast and 30 minutes later, we hoisted the mainsail and got back on track.”

Behind two active areas of low pressure, the maxi trimaran has moved from one system moving rapidly eastwards to another. “We are sailing the other way from the systems,” noted Joyon. “We crossed a trough of low pressure last night with northerly winds followed by an area of calms, then very rapidly the very cold Southerly wind from the Antarctic strengthened with some strong gusts. The boat rose right up on some nasty seas.

“At the moment we are approaching the centre of the high. We only have twelve knots of wind and we are getting ready to change tack to head back down south on the starboard tack. We are being kept busy, as each time we change systems, it takes a lot of manoeuvres…”

With another low ahead of them tonight, approaching the southern tip of the continent of Africa is as tactical as ever. “We are having to do a lot of thinking aboard the boat,” said Francis. “The whole of the crew is involved in analyzing our route with the support of Christian Dumard, who is very clear in his forecasts.”

Sailing into a heavy westerly swell caused by the latest low pressure system, IDEC SPORT is slamming and at times has been forced to slow down. “We’re getting a bit fed up with sailing with the wind on the beam or upwind. We are looking forward to sailing downwind and speeding along in the South Atlantic,” admitted Corentin Joyon, the youngest crewman. Adds dad, “We were hoping for the trade winds in the Indian, but we didn’t get them, so have had to adapt.”

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After starting from Hong Kong on January 18, to beat the Tea Route record of 36:02:37:00 set in 2018 by the Italian Giovanni Soldini and the crew of the MOD70 Maserati trimaran, Joyon’s team must finish in London by 11:36:58 on February 23.

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

Act 1: Port Louis, Lorient – Port Louis, Mauritius (8800 nm) – 19:18:14:45
Act 2: Mauritius – Ho Chi Minh (3975 nm) – 12:20:37:56
Act 3: Ho Chi Minh – Hong Kong (870 nm) – 02:20:28:51
Act 4: Clipper Route between Hong Kong and London (13,000 nm).

Source: IDEC press

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