On a route that they deliberately prolonged by almost 1500 miles in comparison to the Great Circle Route, the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran IDEC SPORT has managed to get ahead of what was forecast by taking a long route down towards 37 degrees South.
After just over four days of racing towards the south of the Indian Ocean, Francis Joyon, his son, Corentin, Christophe Houdet, Bertrand Delesne and Antoine Blouet are now heading back up north off the coast of Western Australia towards the Sunda Strait, which marks the entrance to the China Sea between Java and Sumatra.
They have performed particularly well so far with two great days of sailing more than 700 miles and made it all look so easy once again, sailing downwind in smooth seas. Everything is going well aboard the trimaran, which has won the Route du Rhum three times and is the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy.
Today, they will have to deal with a tricky transition getting around the east of an area of calms and they are expected to slow down before picking up speed again in the SE’ly trade winds.
Francis Joyon, the team captain, is outside of the watch system and has been satisfied with the first four days, approving how his crew has done in latitudes that resemble the far south of the Southern Ocean, which they sailed in during the last Jules Verne Trophy.
“I’m not doing much at all aboard,” he smiled. “Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves sailing IDEC SPORT. We went further south than initially planned because of the area of high pressure, which meant we had to get closer to Australia. We now have to get around it via the east and we are likely to have light winds in the coming hours.”
This was inevitable and Francis and his crew of four accept it philosophically, aware that over the past few days they have achieved some very remarkable performances meaning they are ahead of schedule. Sailing 745 miles averaging more than 31 knots on Sunday, IDEC SPORT is now well positioned to face this transition before picking up some stronger SE’ly winds which will take them up the Indian Ocean towards Indonesia.
Hundreds of litres of water in the boat…
These high speeds were achieved without punishing the boat at all. “We wanted to avoid sailing upwind in heavy seas,” insisted Francis. “That is why we deliberately prolonged our route towards the south. The only problem is that the vibrations aboard the boat at such high speed opened an inspection hatch in the daggerboard housing and the boat immediately filled with several hundreds of litres of water, which we had to evacuate after getting some of our food and clothes wet.”
Caution remains the watchword in this Idec Sport Asian Tour with almost 27,000 miles of sailing. Francis, Corentin, Antoine, Christophe and Bertrand are watching out for squalls and the slightest reaction from the boat, while observing the environment around them.
“We are sailing in what is a desert,” stressed Joyon. “We haven’t seen a single ship, cargo vessel or fishing boat since the start…”
This situation is likely to change drastically as they approach Indonesia, the largest group of islands in the world with around 13,400 inhabited. That is the area they are heading for this morning which is some 1700 miles in front of their bows.