Jules Verne: Flat water, flat out speed

Published on December 6th, 2020

(December 6; Day 12) – In its bid to win the Jules Verne Trophy, Sodebo Ultim 3 has been enjoying a long sprint towards the Indian Ocean, covering 886 miles in the past 24 hours (36.9 knots average), very close to the absolute 24-hour record (908.2 miles per Banque Populaire V in 2009). Their lead on the Idec Sport scoreboard has further increased, to 651 miles this afternoon.

“Since our last maneuver, we have not not been below 35 knots, we even made an hour above 40,” reported crew member Thomas Rouxel. “I had never experienced this before, only these boats allow it, especially in these conditions. We are at the front of a depression, which allows us to have strong wind and flat seas; it is quite exceptional.”

Under these conditions, the autopilot was called upon. “At these speeds and when reaching, a crosswind, the pilot steers better than the man; especially since there were times when he couldn’t see 50 meters,” continues the 38-year-old coxswain. “We take care of the settings to get the most out of the boat’s performance: we give ourselves an ideal heeling angle and we try to stick to it with the sheet and mainsail carriage settings. If the wind eases, we can also adjust the jib settings.”

At these speeds, life on board is quite sporty. “It moves a lot, it makes a lot of noise, the movements of the boat are quite violent, it’s complicated to move, you have to hold on all the time,” Rouxel describes. “This afternoon, I prepared a small pasta dish for the community, it was a little adventure, I managed not to burn myself!”

Despite this, the eight sailors manage to get to sleep. “As we are very tired, we can fall asleep and sleep properly, we have good mattresses and good sleeping bags,” confirms Rouxel.

Rouxel concludes, “Going around the world on an Ultim trimaran is every sailor’s dream. It’s going relatively quickly, 40 days at sea, in very good ‘comfort’ compared to a Volvo 65, where you’re underwater all the time, or even an IMOCA, which is a very hard boat. This is the best, I’m happy to come back to these corners on Sodebo Ultim 3, even if it remains the South. We will be cold, we will be wet all the time because the humidity is 100%, there will constantly be condensation in the bins, but it remains a relative comfort.”

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

Source: Sodebo Ultim 3

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