Jules Verne: Clock ticking on trade winds

Published on December 2nd, 2020

(December 2; Day 8) – Having started a week ago now, Sodebo Ultim 3, which has already covered 3,700 miles, continues its descent of the South Atlantic along the Brazilian coast in pursuit of the Jules Verne Trophy (40:23:30:30).

With good averages again (28 knots in the last 24 hours), this allowed the crew led by Thomas Coville to increase their lead to 167.5 nm (as of 20:45 UTC) on holder Idec Sport’s pace. Sodebo Ultim 3 sailed today in a rather pleasant south-easterly trade wind regime, as Sam Goodchild, one of the eight teammates of the Ultim, explains:

“It’s pretty calm, the sea is fairly flat, the wind not too strong, not even enough from time to time, but we still manage to keep speeds between 20 and 30 knots. It’s a good time to rest because there aren’t too many changes of sails and conditions, it’s also an opportunity to ‘check’ the boat had to go to the South Seas, where it will be colder and where there will be more wind and sea.”

Brazil brings back good memories to the only Briton on board, who celebrated his 31st birthday a few days before the start:

“Exactly a year ago, I was in roughly the same place for the finish of the Transat Jacques Vabre, we finished second with Fabien Delahaye in Class40. And just before Salvador de Bahia, we had been passed by Sodebo Ultim 3, which was competing in the Brest Atlantiques. It’s a great memory and it’s great to come back alongside Brazil a year later with this beautiful boat and a great crew.”

On board Sodebo Ultim 3, the quarters are linked for the seven crew members (Thomas Coville is out of the watch):

“We each do an hour of stand-by, two hours on deck, then another hour of stand-by, before going to bed for two hours,” continues Goodchild. “There is never a full shift change, one person changes every hour. This allows you to always have someone on deck who has been following what has happened in the past hour, but also to all pass each other at least once during the day, which is nice.”

These trade winds will continue tomorrow before an upcoming change in the weather system which is quite uncertain if the Englishman is to be believed:

“The transition from the trade winds to the southern seas may be a bit complicated, but it looks like it could be going well. We will in any case do everything we can to negotiate this transition effectively and quickly before ending up in the southern seas where conditions will be tougher and where we will have to be more careful, because we will be far from everything.”

Crew list: Thomas Coville, François Duguet, Sam Goodchild, Corentin Horeau, Martin Keruzoré, François Morvan, Thomas Rouxel and Matthieu Vandame.

After starting at 02h 55min (French time) on November 25, to grab the Jules Verne Trophy (40:23:30:30), the 32-metre Sodebo Ultim 3 must cross the finish line in Ouessant before January 5 at 2h25min (French time, subject to World Sailing Speed Record Council).


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 and crew on the 31.5m 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, www.sailspeedrecords.com
• 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

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