Jules Verne: Preparing for launch

Published on December 4th, 2020

(December 4; Day 10) – It was a busy day aboard Sodebo Ultim 3 with a succession of gybes in a northwesterly wind corridor off Brazil. The goal of Thomas Coville and his seven teammates is to get ahead of a depression that should take them to Cape of Good Hope then to Kerguelen.

With what Coville called “a somewhat crucial moment” around the world, the challenge was to make a success of the transition between the south-eastern trade winds of the South Atlantic and the South Seas, so to meet a depression capable of taking Sodebo Ultim 3 at a brisk pace towards South Africa and the Indian Ocean. It took a dozen gybes to descend in a staircase in a windy corridor about 300 miles wide, where a great physical expense on board.

“It will accelerate very strongly from tomorrow evening,” explained Coville. “We should be a little ahead of Idec Sport at Bonne-Espérance, which we could overcome in 11 days and 10 hours, and around the same time as him at Kerguelen. The next 24-48 hours will be decisive in knowing if we can really hang this window.”

In other words, to seize this opportunity to attack the 40th at full speed, you need a lot of concentration at the helm, a specialty of a few sailors on board, including François Morvan. Which explains, about the specificity of steering a flying trimaran: “Compared to an Archimedean boat, the fact that the foil stabilizes the boat’s trim adds a parameter to the range of sensations we need to steer.”

The 37-year-old Morbihannais, if he has already completed a round-the-world trip (with Spindrift 2 on the Jules Verne), is about to discover flying navigation in the 40th.

“I’m not apprehensive, but you still have to be careful because you’re entering a relatively hostile place. Now part of the crew knows these seas well, Thomas has spent almost half of his life there, we are well surrounded.”

On this Jules Verne, Morvan is sailing offshore for the first time with his accomplice from the “catas years”, Matthieu Vandame, of whom he says: “It’s a rock, I have never seen it weaken. No matter what adversity, he is equal to himself. Together, we did a lot of little cataclysm, we stopped in 2011 by launching into separate projects with a lot of success, then we did a Tour de France together in 2015 and we ‘was found again last year on SailGP and in Easy To Fly (flying catamarans in both cases). It’s always a pleasure to sail with him, we learned a lot on our own, it’s very pleasant to bring together these skills learned elsewhere on this Jules Verne.”

And it works, since Sodebo Ultim 3 is always ahead of the Idec Sport scoreboard …

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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