On Monday 21 January at 07h45 UTC, Spindrift 2 broke her own record by just over an hour, by crossing the Equator in 4 days 19 hours 57 minutes – and this also gave the black and gold team an advantage of more than 23 hours (180 miles) over the current holders of the Trophy Jules Verne, IDEC Sport.
This is the first challenge in the team’s quest to beat the round the world record. The time for the passage from Ushant to the Equator still has to be officially ratified by the WSSRC (the international organisation that oversees records), but Yann Guichard and his crew can be pleased with this first section of the course, and bettering their own record time, set in 2015 (4d 21h 45'), by 1 hour and 48 minutes.
Spindrift 2 crossed the line in front of the Créac'h lighthouse on Wednesday 16 January at 11h 47 '27' UTC and quickly took advantage of the favourable conditions. The crew had to gybe the 40m trimaran about a dozen times to ensure that they stayed in the trade winds as they passed through the Canary Islands and the island of Hierro.
"We entered the Doldrums at 2 degrees north: they were not very active, so we had to get through in relatively little breeze, but it was especially nice to have the full moon when we crossed the equator - we even saw the eclipse! It was beautiful for a good hour,” skipper Yann Guichard commented a few moments after crossing the equator.
“Everyone has really been on the pace and the modifications that we made to the coach roof have been a real bonus - we are definitely less exposed. The route to the equator was not easy: we had quite lumpy seas in the lead up to the islands, then we had to gybe a lot and pass right through the Canaries and Cape Verde archipelagos.”
However, the team is not out of the Doldrums yet, as they are currently stretching some 120 miles to the south of the Equator. The team will have a challenging six hours or so before they can hook into the south easterly trade winds blowing off Brazil. But the good news is that a strong front is due to leave Cape Frio (off Rio de Janeiro) on Tuesday.
"We will leave the Doldrums at about 2 degrees south, and then we will have to get around St. Helena anticyclone that is forming to the East, so we will have to go to about 37 degrees south before turning left towards the Indian Ocean,” Guichard continued
“It makes the route longer, especially as we will have to cross a light weather area in three days, but we should then reach favourable NW winds. It will be a relatively slow descent ... but we should be a little ahead of Francis Joyon and his crew by the time we reach Cape Aiguilles."
The next goal is the tip of South Africa: Francis Joyon and his crew crossed the longitude of the Cape Aiguilles after 12d 21h 22' at sea.
So, with a 23 hour advantage on this first stretch, Yann Guichard and his crew can hope to stay half a day ahead before entering the Indian Ocean. This same trimaran, when it was Banque Populaire in 2012, took less than 12 days from Ushant (11d 23h 50').
Spindrift 2 still has some 3,200 miles to reach this longitude but the black and gold trimaran has been averaging 26 knots since leaving Ushant, and covering more than 620 miles a day – including the passage through the Doldrums!
The Jules Verne Trophy:
Start and finish: a line between Créac’h lighthouse (Isle of Ushant) and Lizard Point (England)
Course: non-stop around-the-world tour travelling 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: 22.84 knots
Date of current record: January 2017
Holder: IDEC Sport, Francis Joyon and a 5-man crew
Start date for Spindrift 2: 16 January 2019 at 11h 47min 27sec UTC
To beat the record, Spindrift 2 needs to complete the course before February 26 at 11h 16m 57sec UTC.
Crew Split Times References
Ushant-Equator: 4d 19h 57 '(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 Leeuwin-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)
WSSRC crewed records
Crossing the North Atlantic (Ushant-Equator): 4d 19h 57 '(Spindrift 2 in 2019) *
Crossing the Indian Ocean (Cape Aiguilles-S Tasmania): 5d 21h 07’ 45’’ (IDEC Sport in 2017)
Crossing Pacific Ocean (S Tasmania-Cape Horn): 7d 21h 13’ 31’’ (IDEC Sport in 2017)
Equator-Equator- : 29d 09h 10’ 55’’ (IDEC Sport in 2017)
Around the World (Jules Verne Trophy): 40d 23h 30’ 30’’ (IDEC Sport in 2017)
*Waiting for ratification by WSSRC