It is one of the magical things about modern multihulls. They make the distances covered seem so banal. After four days of racing in his attempt against his own Mauritius Route record, Francis Joyon sped past the Canaries, and is now being pushed along in a lively NE’ly trade wind towards the Cape Verde Islands.
Well positioned in a 25-knot air stream, he is clocking up the miles at high speed heading due south, waiting for that crucial moment this evening when he will gybe again to get around the west of the Cape Verde Islands and aim for a way through the infamous Doldrums, the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which have been particularly active over the past few days
“I think I may lose some time to the south of Cape Verde,” admitted Francis without any hint of being worried. His steady progress since the start last Saturday means he now has a lead of more than 330 miles over his own pace set in 2009. This performance leads him to believe that the start time was a wise choice.
“The way through was blocked off behind us,” he explained. “If we had postponed our start, it may have seriously compromised the schedule for the Asian Tour.”
Passing around the west of the Canaries offered its usual package of uncertainties and ups and downs.
“The wind shadow of the volcanic peaks on the island could be felt and I was severely slowed down yesterday afternoon for more than an hour.”
Since then, IDEC SPORT has continued to accelerate and step up the pace. Her average speed has been almost 23 knots since the start and Francis looks like having his best day by this evening.
He is also taking advantage of more pleasant conditions, something which is rare in such attempts. The sun is out and it is warm off Mauritania.
“You get very wet on the boat and I was in waterproofs, but once the sun appeared, the temperature rose aboard IDEC SPORT. The wind is now more regular in direction, with gusts reaching 27-28 knots.”
The wind angle and strength are ideal to allow him to get the most out of his maxi trimaran, which has been hovering close to thirty knots since last night.
“I’m spending some time at the helm just to enjoy it. I have been inspecting the boat, but my team did a great job and I intend to bring to them in Mauritius a boat in excellent condition. During the night I crossed paths with a small yacht heading for the Cape Verde Islands. We talked a bit over the VHF and we discovered we had some friends in common…”
So that is the state of play for Francis, the record hunter, who is more than ever in phase with life on the ocean waves, in harmony with his boat, the elements and looking forward to new horizons…