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Jules Verne: Speed race begins

Published on December 5th, 2020

(December 5; Day 11) – As expected by the routing cell, Sodebo Ultim 3 have managed to position itself ahead of a low shifting eastward, on a long edge last night that will take it to Kerguelen. This morning, Thomas Coville and his seven crew are averaging 34 knots, which allowed them to extend their lead on the Idec Sport chart, by over 400 nm.

“From this evening, the speed race begins,” noted weather expert Jean-Luc Nélias. And indeed, for several hours now, Sodebo Ultim 3, having finished with the western bypass of the Saint Helena high, has considerably lengthened the stride. Now on port tack ahead of a low pressure, this will last a few more days, until Les Kerguelen. Previously, the crew will have swung into the Indian Ocean at the level of Cap des Aiguilles, the southernmost point of South Africa located after Bonne-Espérance, in two days, i.e. in about 12 days, the objective starting from ‘Ushant on November 25.

In anticipation of the Deep South, the boat-captain François Duguet is confident about Sodebo Ultim 3’s ability to withstand these days at full speed: “I have no apprehension, the boat is ready, the crew too, I can’t wait to go.”

Responsible for technically watching over the trimaran, the 39-year-old sailor has, by his own admission, not had much to do in this area since the start a little over 10 days ago: “First 4-5 days, I didn’t even open the toolbox. Then we took advantage of crossing the Doldrums to do some odds and ends, but it was mostly preventive and safety.”

What does he look at first when he checks the boat?

“First everything that is rigging: boom, guy mast, anchoring. After the link arms, the structure below to see if there is no impact; finally, the helm transmission systems and the rudders. Basically anything that is not visible from the living cell.”

On board, the one who confides that he is “always well at sea”, also plays, with his good humor, the “ambianceurs”, without forcing himself: “I don’t know if I am the teaser of the crew, let’s say that I am perhaps a little more expressive, that I have the verb a little higher than some, even if there are some who are not left out. It’s important when you leave for 40 days, in a kind of closed session, to keep a good atmosphere so that morale remains high, it requires good words and little relaxed moments.”

This good atmosphere is also fueled by Thomas Coville who sets the pace on board:

“Personally, it’s a discovery for me to go on a record for so long and not have a direct competitor,” continues Duguet. “It’s not easy, sometimes you have to do yourself a little violence, constantly re-motivate yourself, but Thomas is there for that and he does it very well. He calls us to order, asks us to stay focused on the numbers and settings. On a record, we fight against ourselves, it requires constant concentration.”

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,
• 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: Sodebo Ultim 3

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