Seeking to win the Jules Verne Trophy

Published on October 11th, 2022

Yann Guichard, Dona Bertarelli and nine other sailors will make up the crew of ‘Sails of Change’ in an attempt to win the Jules Verne Trophy, an award for the fastest non-stop and unassisted circumnavigation of the world.

“It’s the ultimate sporting goal, an extraordinary time to beat, that has been halved in the space of 30 years,” said skipper Guichard.

Beginning October 24, the crew will be on standby, studying the weather conditions and preparing to beat the round-the-world record set by a team led by Francis Joyon in 2017: 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes.

However, Guichard and Berarelli have struggled in pursuit of this record:

January 2016 – Adverse weather halted effort on Day 43 of 2015-16 attempt.
January 2018 – Dismasted en route to start line.
December 2019 – Abandoned after one day due to steerage issue.
January 2022 – No suitable weather to begin 2021-22 effort.

This is unfinished business for the duo, particularly as their VPLP-designed trimaran had been modified for the 2021-22 attempt, most prominently with its engine being removed.

“We’re going to take on an additional challenge, since we’ll be attempting to break the round the world record without using any energy produced using fossil fuels,” explained Guichard at the time. “Our main sources of energy will come from the sun and wind, as well as an on-board bike-powered generator. We are keen to show it’s possible.”

To achieve what Guichard refers to as the ‘challenge within the challenge’, changes were made to the cockpit, aerodynamics, and central hull which was shortened from 40 to 37 meters.

Once standby begins, the maxi trimaran, based in France at La Trinité-sur-Mer, will be ready to set off for Brest at the first favorable weather window. The official start/finish line is between the Le Créac’h Lighthouse off the tip of Brittany (FRA) and the Lizard Point in Cornwall (GBR).

Jean-Yves Bernot will be assisting on when to start and the best course when underway. “A recognized specialist, he has been by our side since our first round-the-world attempt in 2015,” said Guichard. “As both a former navigator and a land router, he knows the course like no one else.”

Crew notes from Guichard:

• Thierry Chabagny (50): “An experienced sailor who has already sailed twice around the world. His experience will be invaluable.”

• Greg Gendron (39): “Joined our team in 2019. Greg is always smiling, friendly, and ready to help. He is very comfortable sailing at sea, I have total confidence in him.”

• Clément Giraud (41): “He just finished the Vendée Globe and is one of our Southerners. He is full of the joys of life.”

• Jacques Guichard (42): “Watch-leader, I’ve been able to count on his multiple talents since the birth of the Spindrift project. Sharing this adventure with my brother is such a blessing and will bring us even closer together.”

• Pierre Leboucher (41): “A newcomer to the crew but with solid experience, having sailed in the Olympics and Le Figaro. Pierre is a true sailor who likes to push himself to the limits.”

• Christopher Pratt (41): “He also joined us this year. He is a Cartesian spirit: structured and focused on performance. If he does something, he does it 100%.”

• Xavier Revil (51): “A great sailor and former holder of the Jules Verne Trophy. I’ve known Xavier since my Optimist years; he’s been with us since the start of the Spindrift adventure. As a watch captain, I know I can rely on his know-how at all times.”

• Benjamin Schwartz (36): “He has sailed in Le Figaro and has sailed round the world in the Volvo Ocean Race. Responsible for the navigation unit, I can count on his detailed analysis of weather strategy.”

• Julien Villion (30): “With solid experience from Le Figaro, he is always seeking the right settings and constantly questioning himself, raising our overall performance.”

About the boat:
Formerly 40 meters long (now 37 metres), 23 metres wide and weighing 21 tons, Sails of Change is the largest ocean racing trimaran ever built, and has a track record to match. Launched in 2008, the boat held the Jules Verne Trophy from 2012 to 2017 (45 days, 13 hours). Sails of Change was acquired by the Spindrift team in 2013.

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

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