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Coville quits Jules Verne Trophy attempt

Published on December 11th, 2020

(December 11; Day 17) – The Sodebo Ultim 3 team decided today to stop their attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy due to rudder issues.

While sailing between the Kerguelen and Cape Leeuwin, at over 30 knots, Thomas Coville and his seven crew noticed damage to the starboard rudder. After working on the problem for several hours in conjunction with their technical team on land, they had to face the facts.

As the repair no longer allowed the boat to sail at 100% of its capacity in an attempt to beat the Jules Verne Trophy record, they have stopped their attempt which began on November 25 at 2:55 am.

“The problem was more serious than initially thought, so that it was no longer possible to steer the boat with the same ambitions and above all the same safety,” explained Coville, who note the record attempt was not his only responsibility. “As it’s also my job to bring the crew back and bring the boat back to its owner, it was my decision to not tempt the devil with a boat that is not 100%.”

While the team enjoyed record-breaking weather in the Atlantic, building a lead of more than 600nm over record holder Idec Sport, the forecast in the Indian Ocean was far less favorable. The team lost miles on their advantage each day, and fell behind the needed pace yesterday.

The 32m trimaran is now heading for Reunion Island near Madagacar – 2300 nm to the northwest – in order to make the boat more reliable and return safely to Lorient, France.

“We chose Reunion rather than Australia for several reasons,” explains team manager Jean-Christophe Moussard. “First, because the weather conditions were more favorable to reach Réunion, and secondly because it was easier to send a technical team.

“For Australia, current sanitary conditions called for a fortnight in isolation. Réunion is a French department, so it’s much easier to organize. To return to Lorient via the Cape of Good Hope, the weather systems are more favorable.”

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) for fastest time around the world, the 32-metre Sodebo Ultim 3 would have needed to cross the finish line 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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