At 23:25 GMT on Thursday, Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate at 56S with Class40 Financial Crisis. Racing 49 miles off the infamous outcrop at the southern tip of Chile, Financial Crisis is the second, double-handed, Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) Class40 to round the world’s most notorious cape.
The fact that Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel took line honours at the gate with Cessna Citation doesn’t diminish the immense achievement of racing only the fifth Class40 to sail through the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn. “What a day!” exclaimed Nannini shortly after crossing the gate. “I think it will take me a while to fully process this fact, but I’m sure it’ll live in my thoughts for the rest of my life.”
Having carried out a text book heaving-to manoeuvre west of Cape Horn to avoid strong winds as they approached the cape, Nannini and Ramon timed their run through the treacherous Drake Passage perfectly – almost: “Just when the weather was finally improving we were left with a last minute reminder of where we are as a squall came through during the night bringing another stint of 50-knot winds and lots of snow…it was quite surreal,” comments Nannini.
For Nannini’s co-skipper, Hugo Ramon, rounding the cape is an opportunity to indulge in some Cape Horn traditions: “Now I can wear a gold earring in my left ear and pee into the wind!” claims the 26 year-old Spaniard. On a more serious note, Ramon knows that sailing through Drake Passage is a monumental challenge: “I’ve really learnt, once again, that you have to respect nature and the elements,” he confirms. “I don’t think we tamed or conquered the elements by rounding Cape Horn safely,” he says. “Simply that Cape Horn has let us pass.”
After rounding Cape Horn conditions became increasingly light throughout Friday as Financial Crisis climbed north steeply and with weather models predicting further light airs, Nannini and Ramon decided to cut the corner. At 17:00 GMT on Friday, Nannini and Ramon had committed to sailing through Le Maire Strait – a 17-mile wide stretch of water between mainland Tierra del Fuego and the offlying Isla de Los Estados that has famously tricky currents and eddies.
Meanwhile, 370 miles to the north of Financial Crisis on Friday afternoon, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel were 150 miles off the coast of Patagonia with Cessna Citation having left the Falkland Islands to starboard on Thursday night. Although the breeze has gone lighter for the New Zealand-South African GOR leaders, around 400 miles to the north a deep low pressure is building with 50+ knot winds forecast before the system tracks eastwards and into the South Atlantic. The duo on Cessna Citation are likely to aim for the western edge of the system.
Approximately 540 miles south-west of Cape Horn on Friday afternoon, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are working beneath a high pressure system blocking the route of Phesheya-Racing: ““The weather forecast from the Chilean MRCC said that the wind would ease some more and the sea would be ‘rippled to slight’,” confirms Hutton-Squire. “They are very right as there is a small swell rolling, but generally it is very flat,” she adds. “I can’t believe we are in the South-East Pacific but we are enjoying the sea state and wind conditions.”
The weather on Friday did permit 45th birthday celebrations for Leggatt: “The sea is so flat today we lit the candles, sang happy birthday, took some video and photos, then Nick blew the candles out.” Despite the celebrations on board, the frustrating light airs are set to continue: “We think we have about three or four days until we get to Cape Horn, but it all depends on the high pressure in front of us,” predicts Hutton-Squire.
GOR leaderboard at 17:00 GMT 24/2/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 908 7.6kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 375 8.7kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 1011 7.6kts
In the middle of the Southern Ocean night at 06:25 GMT on Wednesday, Conrad Colman and Adrian Kuttel crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate with Class40 Cessna Citation at the head of the double-handed Global Ocean Race (GOR) fleet.
The 28 year-old Kiwi, Colman, and his 41 year-old South African co-skipper, Kuttel, now join the ranks of Cape Horners and take the Felipe Cubillos Trophy in memory of the late Chilean yachtsman and skipper of the first Class40 to round Cape Horn in the 2008-09 GOR.
Colman and Kuttel had pushed hard throughout Tuesday hitting 14-knot averages to beat the gale forecast to hit Cape Horn: “It was pretty intense yesterday, with 30 knots sustained, gusting more,” Colman reported on Wednesday morning shortly after rounding the cape. “I put myself on the helm for nine hours straight to make the best progress possible with the small running spinnaker,” he explains. “Following a backing shift in the wind, we were still able to make good miles east with flatter sails and as the squalls intensified we ended up broad reaching under just the staysail and double-reefed main.”
Colman and Kuttel crossed the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate at 57S, 87 miles south of Horn Island, clipping the southern tip of Latin America’s continental shelf and wisely avoiding the shallower water closer to the cape. “I finally had a nap just before crossing the magic line of longitude and climbed into the sleeping bag with a huge satisfied smile on my face,” says the Kiwi skipper. “A pretty special place to be and what a way to do it!” Colman exclaims. “First place at Cape Horn in my first circumnavigation after all the challenges just to get here. Very memorable.” Having submitted their Cape Horn ETA on Saturday when 1,000 miles west of the cape, Colman and Kuttel are in the running for the Cape Horn Navigation Prize as Cessna Citation rounded the cape just one hour and 25 minutes behind their projected routing schedule.
In the 15:00 GMT position poll on Wednesday, Cessna Citation was 69 miles south-east of Cape Horn, climbing north-east steeply as the gale approached. “The sea state is still well established, but the wind has moderated for now before building again significantly for a time,” says Colman who is already looking beyond Isla de los Estados. “Current routing is unequivocally around the east side of the Falklands,” predicts Colman of the obstacle positioned 330 miles down the track.
Meanwhile, 300 miles west of Cessna Citation on Wednesday afternoon in second place onFinancial Crisis, the Cape Horn ETA of mid-evening GMT on Wednesday submitted by Marco Nannini and Hugo Ramon became unachievable as the Italian-Spanish duo hove-to at 57S, south-west of the cape to avoid intercepting gale force winds sweeping up from Antarctica. Marco Nannini explained the decision on Tuesday evening: “After much debate, we decided it was simply too risky for us to carry on heading for such a dangerous rendezvous and have instead slowed down and we’ll let the worst of the gale blow through,” he confirmed. Although Cessna Citation had the lead and the horsepower to attempt clearing Cape Horn, Nannini and Ramon were further west and handicapped by the loss of their main, masthead spinnaker. “We considered this option, but ruled it out as we didn’t think we could make it in time,” Nannini explains.
His Spanish co-skipper was in total agreement: “Cape Horn may have the smell and aura of adventure and freedom, but it scares most experienced seamen,” points out Ramon. “Hundreds of boats have broken up and sunk here and it’s only because now it’s mainly racing boats that round the cape that the number isn’t even greater,” he adds. “The Race Director of the GOR, Josh Hall, has raced around Cape Horn three times and Nick Leggatt on Phesheya-Racing has been around the Horn five times and they both advised us in emails over the past couple of days that in the conditions we would face in the gale, there would be enormous, confused seas as we crossed close to the continental shelf.”
Early on Wednesday, Nannini and Ramon – carrying storm jib and four reefs in the main – reported that all was well on Financial Crisis and their skilled and text book heaving-to manoeuvre was working comfortably in 35-45 knots and gusts up to 55 knots. By 13:00 GMT, the low pressure was on the move, heading for Cape Horn, centred south-east of the Italian-Spanish Class40 and Nannini and Ramon were back in the game, tucking into the 30-knot south-westerlies on the back of the system. At 15:00, Financial Crisis was averaging just under eight knots with 280 miles remaining to the Felipe Cubillos Cape Horn Gate.
As Cessna Citation approaches the Southern Ocean’s exit door and Financial Crisis piles on to Cape Horn, Nick Leggatt and Phillippa Hutton-Squire are picking their way across the top of a high-pressure system with Phesheya-Racing and at 15:00 GMT on Wednesday, the South African duo had slowed to under three knots as the light airs struck at 58S with 860 miles to Cape Horn.
GOR leaderboard at 15:00 GMT 22/2/12:
1. Cessna Citation DTF 1363 10.4kts
2. Financial Crisis DTL 316 7.5kts
3. Phesheya-Racing DTL 918 2.3kts
The fourteen sailors aboard the Maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V just entered history of offshore racing by becoming the fastest men around the globe with crew, after 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes 53 seconds of sailing*. Loïck Peyron and his crew improved the reference time of the Jules Verne Trophy held by Groupama 3 since March 2010 by 2 days 18 hours 1 minute and 59 seconds.
Historical record for Banque Populaire !
Departed on November 22nd at 09:31:42 Paris time (08:31:42 GMT), after having crossed the imaginary line between Ushant (Finistère-France) and Lizard Point (southern tip of England), the Maxi Banque Populaire V crossed the finish line of the Jules Verne Trophy at 23:14:35 Paris time (22:14:35 GMT) this Friday. She undertook this sailing around the world in 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes 53 seconds days at an average speed of 26.51 knots, covering a total distance of 29 002 miles.
Launched in August 2008 in Lorient (Morbihan-France),the giant trimaran holding the colours of Banque Populaire has also established several referenced time on various partials officially listed by the WSSRC for her first world tour:
Equator / Equator record in 32 days, 11 hours, 51 minutes and 30 seconds
Indian Ocean crossing record (Cape Agulhas / South of Tasmania) in 8 days 7 hours 22 minutes and 15 seconds
Under the leadership of the skipper Loïck Peyron, Thierry Chabagny, Florent Chastel, Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, Kevin Escoffier, Emmanuel Le Borgne, Frédéric Le Peutrec, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant, Ronan Lucas, Pierre-Yves Moreau, Yvan Ravussin, Xavier Revil, Brian Thompson, Juan Vila and onshore router Marcel van Triest, are the new holders of the Jules Verne Trophy*.
Loïck Peyron, skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire V : The feeling from the guys onboard : Emotion and Happiness ! We have filled a good part of the contract! We will now appreciate our victory between us and will return in Brest tomorrow morning to share this beautiful story with everyone. Our memories are full of wonderful images: the departure, icebergs, albatrosses, the Kerguelen Islands… When you sail around the world in 45 days, you see many things. The only one we did not get is Cape Horn but this frustration is quickly forgotten with the record we now have in hands. We are very proud !
Brian Thompson : “Everyone is really excited on board and we are looking forward to seeing everybody tomorrow morning. This has been an incredible trip around the planet, almost a dream ride. And that is because of the quality of the boat, of the preparation and most of all to the incredible crew on board. I am very fortunate to have sailed with Loïck, the best all round multihull sailor there is, and the rest of the team that are so talented, industrious, dedicated, fun and welcoming to an English guy with schoolboy French! It feels absolutely fantastic. At the same time, to become the first Briton to sail around the world non-stop 4 times, is just amazing and feels very special”
JULES VERNE TROPHY
Start date and time : November 22nd 2011 at 09:31:42 Paris time (08:31:42 GMT)
Arrival date and time at Ushant: January 6th 2012 at 23:14:35 Paris time (22:14:35 GMT)
Distance: 29 002 miles
Average speed : 26.51 knots
New reference time on the Jules Verne Trophy* : 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes 53 seconds
Time difference with Groupama 3’s record in 2010: 2 days 18 hours 1 minute and 59 seconds
* Under the WSSRC approval (World Sailing Speed ??Record Council).
Loïck Peyron and his crew are expected at the Marina du Château, quai Jean-Francois La Perouse in Brest (France) at around 10:30am this Saturday, January 7th.
Since 12 :17 :30 (French time) this Friday, Loïck Peyron and his men are back in the Northern Hemisphere, 38 days 2 hours 45 minutes and 48 seconds * after leaving Ushant. With this outstanding performance, the Maxi Banque Populaire V not only writes a new distinction to his logbook, but also improves the partial Equator to Equator with a lead of 3 days 18 hours 24 minutes over Groupama 3 in 2010 but above all, faster than any other sailing boat on this race. A good sign for the fourteen sailors entering their final week at sea.
With this new partial shattered, the Maxi Banque Populaire V carries on falling records on her attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. 32 days 11 hours 51 minutes and 30 seconds * after entering the southern hemisphere, the fourteen record’s hunters shattered the time set in 2005 by Bruno Peyron aboard Orange II, improving it by more than one day. Still enjoying mild conditions, the crew of the Maxi Banque Populaire V, by the voice of his skipper, savors the moment of the crossing: “We crossed the equator at high speed. We are sailing at 35 knots, on a sea almost flat, it’s really fun ! The boat does not suffer, and men even less. Everyone is excited, especially the fresh Cape Horners. Hello northern hemisphere, that’s not bad at all this record! It will now be increasingly difficult to beat it but still feasible and that’s the good news …”. A natural enthusiasm shared by Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, helmsman / trimmer on board, who joined today’s radio vacation : “We are in the northern hemisphere for a few minutes and it already seems like being on our usual playground. It’s been thirty-two days since we left the Northern Hemisphere, which roughly accounts for three quarters of the time in the South and one quarter in the North. It brings us closer to home, which is good. The sailing conditions are beautiful, the sea is completely flat and it is almost straight on the road. There are very little squalls, the nights are quiet, starry … we really encounter exceptional conditions and we could not ask for more, including the boat. The weather conditions enable us to break the record but our anxiety is coming from the technique. We have sailed 20,000 miles without making any pit stop, we must keep the equipment in good shape.”
For Brian Thompson, this passage to the North was even more particular: “I was lucky enough to be on the helm doing 35 knots as we counted down 0.02S, 0.01S, 0.01N!! The 3rd small bottle of Champagne we have carried was opened, and some of the bubbly nectar is first given to Neptune, to thank him for a safe passage through the Southern Seas..Then comes the saucisson and the Toblerone, all being shared between the crew and that God of the Sea.”
24,063 miles already in the wake
This return in the North is not the finish line and on board, we specifically know that even after 24 063 miles undergone smoothly, nothing is settled yet. Vigilance is still more than ever a must, as the final conditions for the final stretch ahead appears nicely. With a lead of 1 432 miles and three days advance on Groupama 3 around the same time, a certain serenity sets in, especially as the inter-tropical convergence zone is seen as particularly friendly as recalled Thierry Duprey du Vorsent “The Doldrums are not very active, and thanks to our western position, it should be easy to get through. This will be one of the first times I pass them without a transition zone of dead calm on a single board. Again, we are lucky. We will have to get dressed again in two or three days and get the fleeces and foul weather gears out again. But we will accept it more easily as the finish line won’t be far !”
A fighter named Banque Populaire V
With an average of 26.31 knots since leaving Ushant on November 21st, Loïck Peyron and his men have significantly reduced the time and distance, leaving their fans admiring. Rarely a boat will have scrolled through that amount of miles and still demonstrating such reliability. Qualities that the skipper did not fail to mention this afternoon: “Last night, around 6pm, we were off the coast of Recife in Brazil while we were still off Cape Horn less than a week ago. The Maxi Banque Populaire V is a unique fighter on the planet. We should return to Brest in a week and oddly, it promises to be the most week-long of this round the world course.” But before seeing the end of this last week, the fourteen men still have to compose with the North Atlantic sea before entering the great history of offshore sailing.
* subject to approval and ratification by the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council)
Yvan Ravussin Chef de quart, responsable composite
Brian Thompson Barreur/ Régleur
Pierre Yves Moreau Régleur, Responsable mécanique et hydraulique
Thierry Chabagny N°1/ Barreur/ Régleur, Responsable accastillage et voiles
Frédéric Le Peutrec Chef de quart
Emmanuel Le Borgne Barreur/ Régleur, Responsable médical
Thierry Duprey Du Vorsent Barreur/ Régleur, Responsable mécanique
Ronan Lucas N°1/ Régleur, Responsable sécurité
Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant Chef de Quart, responsable voile
Kevin Escoffier Barreur/ Régleur, Responsable vidéo et structure
Xavier Revil Barreur/ Régleur, Responsable avitaillement à bord
Florent Chastel N°1/ Régleur, Responsable médical
Marcel Van Triest Routeur à terre
Cliquez ici pour visionner la cartographie (mises à jour toutes les heures)
Reference time of the Jules Verne Trophy
Groupama 3 (Franck Cammas) – 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes 52 seconds
Record to beat
To become the new record holder, the Maxi Banque Populaire V has to be back no later than Monday, January 9th 2012 at 16:15:34 GMT.
Lead / Delay at 4pm
1436.2 miles lead on the reference time
Sailing time since departure :
38 days 07 hours 47 minutes 26 seconds or 3 days 18 hours 24 minutes less than Groupama 3 in 2010.
Distance Ushant-Equator: crossed on the 28/11/2011 at 00:26:52 am, French time.
In 5d 14h 55mn 10s of navigation, Loïck Peyron and his 13 teammates realize the fastest time on the distance from Ushant.
Distance Ouessant-Equateur : le 28/11/2011 à 00h 26mn 52 sec, heure française.
En 5j 14h 55mn 10s de navigation, Loïck Peyron et ses 13 équipiers réalisent le meilleur temps sur la distance depuis Ouessant.
Distance Ushant – Cape of Good Hope: crossed on the 4/12/20 at 07:20 am, French time.
In 11 days 21 hours 48 minutes and 18 seconds, Loïck Peyron and his 13 teammates realize the fastest time over the distance established between Ushant and Cape of Good Hope, until then hold by Groupama 3 in 2008 in 13 days 06 hours 1 minute.
In 2010, Groupama took 14 days 13 hours 31 minutes and 43 seconds to reach the Cape of Good Hope, Banque Populaire V thus improves this time of 2 days 15 hours 43 minutes and 25 seconds.
Ushant – Cape Leeuwin: crossed on the 10/12/2011 at 9:29 am, French time.
In 17 days 23 hours 57 minutes and 18 seconds, Loïck Peyron and his 13 teammates realize the record for the distance established between Ushant and Cape Leeuwin, which was previously of 21 days 14 hours and 43 seconds in 2008 hold by Groupama on her first attempt.
In 2010, Groupama took 21 days 14 hours 21 minutes and 54 seconds to reach the Cape Leeuwin
Ushant – Cape Horn: crossed on the 23/12/2011 at 7:50:30, French time
The Maxi Banque Populaire V took 30 days, 22 hours, 18 minutes, 48 seconds since crossing the start line off Ushant to achieve this transition, a lead of more than one day on the reference time on the Jules Verne Trophy.
Pacific crossing time of the Maxi Banque Populaire V: 10 days 15 hours 7 minutes 15 seconds, or 1 day 20 hours 59 minutes 15 seconds longer than Orange II, who holds the record of this stretch in 8 days 18 hours 8 minutes.
It was 7:50:30am on 23rd December (Paris time), after 30 days 22 hours 18 minutes and 48 seconds at sea, when the Maxi Banque Populaire V crossed the southern tip of the Americas and with it the last of the three capes of the course of the Jules Verne Trophy: the famous Horn. By posting a time of 10 days 15 hours 7 minutes and 15 seconds on the Pacific, Loïck Peyron and his men leave to Bruno, the elder brother of the skipper, the absolute record for the distance. The close proximity of a return in the Atlantic and the prospect of accelerating prevail on any award for the fourteen sailors on board.
That’s it! After hectic days and conditions that did not leave any time for resting, the men of the Maxi trimaran were waiting for this famous and mythical Cape Horn as a reward. After the wind returned and the high pressure ridge yesterday, good news falls on board. However, the rookies won’t get the right to get their souvenir photo, the sea conditions being too rough close to the rock and a very strong wind implied an offshore passage for the giant multihull. The symbol was still there with half of the crew getting into the sought-after circle of Cape Horners. From the beginning, a month ago off Ushant, the interval time between Cape Leeuwin and the way out of the Pacific is the first one not to fall into the hands of Loïck Peyron and his crew, the crew of Orange II Bruno Peyron remain holders with 8 days 18 hours and 8 minutes, it is to say 1 day 20 hours 59 minutes and 15 seconds better. For the wink, we can note that on board, Florent Chastel* remains the fastest man crossing the Pacific. Otherwise, it is a troop leader in good shape that commented on the event of the day: “It was not possible to sail closer to Cape Horn, sea conditions are already not bad here we are, and are even stronger next to the Rock. The fresh applicants are granted Cape Horners and they are thrilled! Conditions now allow us to get going on a little bit more than what was possible a week ago or ten days, because today we have only one day in advance. ”
* Florent was indeed part of the Orange II crew.
A quick ascent towards Equator?
Get going, the word is out and back after being confronted with ice depression at first, followed by a ridge and the absence of wind in a second, having put aside any notion of performance. But on board, we know that there is still an ocean to cross before the Grail and no one would think to put aside the critical management of the machine. Their role is to look at the clock but above all to continue protect the boat as they have done so far. With winds recorded at up to 40 knots last night, the elements reminded them of the facts. Until tomorrow, the sailors will continue flirting with the border of the Pacific pursuing a road heading east, to South Georgia, waiting for the opportune time to jibe. Then will ring the deliverance bell back in the Atlantic and return to a north route to the Equator: “The wind will ease off all day today and reinforce tomorrow, North West of a depression centered on South Georgia. Once we will have gibed, we will be able to get to the North and warmer conditions. I might reach the Equator faster than I have ever done. It should be done in better times than Franck Cammas and his crew, and the all-time record held by Bruno, my brother. ”
Day of major changes
A potentially ideal scenario for the coming days, as Marcel van Triest, onshore router detailed at mid-day: “They will have a sea relatively tough and will have to make this detour by South Georgia. Tomorrow morning, they will jibe an head north. This will be the day of the big changes. For now, they should be very fast until Uruguay. Then there will be a transition off Brazil. They should reach the Equator in seven to eight days, which is a very decent time. In the end, it is not impossible to approach the 45 days … ”
The record in numbers
Record to beat :
To become the new record holder, the Maxi Banque Populaire V has to be back no later than Monday, January 9, 2012 at 5pm 15min and 34s (Paris time).
Reference time :
Groupama 3 (Franck Cammas) - 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes 52 seconds
Cape Horn crossing time:
23rd December 2011 – 7pm 50 minutes 30 seconds
Average seabed speed since the start : 26.7 knots
Lead on the Cape Horn crossing record : 535 milles
Sailing time since the start: 30 days 22 hours 18 minutes 48 seconds or 1 day 6 hours 16 minutes less than Groupama 3 in 2010.
Pacific crossing Time: 10 days 15 hours 7 minutes 15 seconds or 1 day 20 hours 59 minutes 15 seconds longer than Orange II, which holds the record of this stretch in 8 days 18 hours 8 minutes.
Lead/delay at 4pm
552.1 milles on the record’s time
Less than a week after crossing the Cape of Good Hope and their entry into the Indian Ocean, the crew of the Maxi Banque Populaire V have crossed the Cape Leewin at 9:29am on Saturday 10th October, getting once again a new reference time between these two Capes. After 17 days 23 hours 57 minutes and 18 seconds at sea since leaving Ushant, here are Loïck Peyron and his crew off the coast of Australia, sailing on the Pacific, improving the time of Groupama 3 by 3 days 14 hours and 24 minutes and signing the best performance of all time …
With more than 3 days in advance from the referenced time of the Jules Verne Trophy, the fourteen sailors aboard the giant trimaran greeted respectfully Cape Leewin, the second imposed Cape after Good Hope and before Cape Horn. Recognizing the performance and obviously happy to see things going under the best possible conditions, Loïck Peyron appreciated this new act during an exceptional live video conference from the Paris Boat Show. “We are obviously very pleased with this new record and the time itself is significant. It’s like € 9.99 … everything is done under 17 days 23 hours and not quite 18 days or 11 days 21 hours and 48 minutes for Good Hope. These numbers are symbolic. But for now, conditions are not that favorable, the performance of this boat, however, is incredible! Yvan Ravussin was at the helm when crossing Cape Leewin, so it’s a Swiss record! ”
For Brian Thomson, this time to reach Cape Leewin is almost indecent : « I had daydreamed before the trip about getting to Oz in 20 days, and how incredible that would be, but less than 18, just amazing, I never even considered it possible..”
Far from dwelling on the day’s event, the skipper is already turned towards the future.
In this matter, the next few days will be tough. The Pacific Ocean in which the trimaran is now sailing won’t be that ‘pacific’. With a westerly wind gaining in intensity in a choppy sea, the boat is progressing between two different systems. On one side, a storm standing in front of them and on the other, an anticyclone which would impose a slowdown, a decision has to be made: performance and sailing ahead the clock was chosen. “We are done with the Indian Ocean and have crossed the border with a pretty cool storm. We will jibe before the end of the day and get into the storm and a very choppy sea. We have to follow that path, because otherwise we will face a no-wind area in the anticyclone. However it might become a bit busty… By letting it advance a little, we should have the sea in the right direction. For the moment, it is not really swell that we have but little waves which frequency does not allow us to accelerate. By heading south a little, we should encounter an easier sea but the next few days won’t be fun. We will theoretically go down and relatively not far from the Macquarie Island, south of New Zealand. The conditions will be tough enough for the next 48 hours, and appear to be the strongest we will have to face since departure. ”
Offshore Australia, the toughest part of the race since leaving Ushant on 21 November is about to be faced by Loïck Peyron and his men. But as Brian recalls : ‘To finish first, first you have to finish’ and we can be reassured that the crew will take good care of their mount !
It has barely been a week of racing and already good new shows up for Maxi Banque Populaire V. By crossing the equator at 00 hours 26 minutes and 52 seconds (Paris time) last night, after 5 days 14 hours 55 minutes and 10 seconds * at sea, Loïck Peyron and his men are now the fastest of all time on this section of the Jules Verne Trophy. A record that is a good omen for what is next, promising to be just as fluid on the approach of St. Helena.
So no hazing for sailors, for a first small victory that will have let expectantly Marcel van Triest and the weather unit for some time, as evoked by the shore router: “It was a bit tight for beat the record. We indeed do not break it with a lot of advance. It looked very feasible at the time of the Canaries and Cape Verde, but the doldrums we face were very active and long. Thus, if reaching the time of Groupama 3 in 2010 was more or less acquired, it was not the case for the record time.” Improved by half an hour, the new reference time between Ushant and Equator becomes the property of the Maxi Banque Populaire V.
Highway to Sainte-Helena?
On top of the celebration brought by this news, the following also looks enviable for the crew. The famous St. Helena anticyclone, a southern match of the Azores’, appears under the best conditions. Currently at 220 miles off the Brazilian coast in a South-East wind, the Maxi Banque Populaire V sailing conditions are relatively uncomfortable for men – the sea coming upfront the bow – but still allow the machine to display some satisfactory speed. In a few hours, the setting will change, to the delight of all, as explained this afternoon by Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant:
“The wind begins to rotate a bit. We’ll gradually go around the anticyclone. It’s going to become more comfortable and it will be easier to sleep. We are not sailing tailwind yet so we have the sea movements facing the boat which makes us wriggling in all directions. But we all know it won’t last, that it will get better by tomorrow. So we just bear with it. For now, the weather is wonderful. These are the trade winds in Brazil “. Marcel van Triest to add: “At that time, which is relatively early, the St. Helena anticyclone is quite south, although strong and big, but we have good circulation around it. We cannot cut cheese but we will have good conditions to do the trick. The wind will gradually turn around and become East, North / East getting near the anticyclone. We have no particular concerns. “
With the Equator behind them, Loïck Peyron and his crew should thus have an open road in front of them for the descent of the Atlantic. Going around the anticyclone of St. Helena should even appear of almost a formality. And about the transition to Good Hope, Team Banque Populaire’s router wanted to be particularly clear and optimistic: “I see us passing the Cape of Good Hope in the thirteen days for sure, maybe in the twelve and a half days … ”
Watching closely to weather forecasts for the past few days, Loïck Peyron and his men have decided to take advantage of the front that now stretches between Ireland and Portugal, taking a departure opportunity waited for the past month. By crossing the virtual start line between Ushant and the Lizard Point at 09h31min42s, the Maxi Banque Populaire V is undertaking the Jules Verne Trophy, for the second attempt of her history. “Light” for the warm-up, weather conditions should quickly gain in intensity in the Bay of Biscay, thus plunging the fourteen sailors directly at the heart of their oceanic subject. The stopwatch is on, along with a great adventure.
It was at 5.03pm, Monday 21st November, a month after mooring at the Port du Chateau in Brest, that Loïck Peyron and his men were finally able to give in to the urge to take off. In a relaxed atmosphere, illuminated by fourteen smiles, the Maxi Banque Populaire V has cast off with all the usual precautions in order to reach Ushant and to wait for a few hours, before setting off the timing of this famous Jules Verne Trophy. Ronan Lucas, director of Team Banque Populaire and bowman, summarized his satisfaction: “We have been waiting for this moment for long. We wanted it to happen earlier this year. We cannot wait to be in action rather than behind the computer trying to analyze if it goes or not! It is a relief. ”
“It is going to shake! »
At 09h31min42s this Tuesday, finding the optimal weather configuration over the Atlantic and in consultation with the strategic cell composed of Ronan Lucas and Juan Vila on board, and Marcel van Triest on shore, Loïck Peyron crossed the imaginary line between the Creac’h lighthouse situated on the Northwest tip of the Brittany island and Lizard Point, on the south west of Britain. The light conditions to get into the swing of this non-stop round the world won’t last for long and the menu should seriously get tougher for the sailors. Interviewed prior to departure, the Spanish navigator of Team Banque Populaire, detailed the situation announced over the Atlantic in the coming hours: «We have deeply analyzed weather files these days and everything seems to line up for now to reach the Equator and the Cape of Good Hope in good times. We should have standard conditions at Ushant, with about twenty knots, but it will it will quickly rise. Within four / five hours, we should reach thirty knots. If the weather files are accurate, we should have around forty knots in Cape Finisterre. It’s like every departure, we are looking for the wind and inevitably we will have to face waves and swell. It is going to shake. For the longer term, we are looking at the time at the Equator. For the moment it looks like five days and a half, hoping it stays that way, and if the files are confirmed in the coming days. After that, we look at a trend that could lead us to the Cape of Good Hope in thirteen days. ”
The game of compromise
Tough and wet, this entering should allow Loïck Peyron and his crew to negotiate the descent to the equator at first, then to South Africa, under these more than acceptable conditions. For his first appointment, out of his distinguished career, with the Jules Verne Trophy, the skipper likes the script and its pitfalls: “The weather conditions are favourable for now. The major trick will be to squeeze between the Azores High and Portugal and Morocco, to get as Western as possible to get a good angle with the low trade winds blowing now. The first matter is therefore the management of a strong wind to start with, followed by a light one after three days racing. Afterwards, it is the unknown and for the best! It’s a nice window, but it is never optimal, we must always compromise. What is interesting is that the time set by Franck Cammas and his crew does not have the best partial times. You can always try to improve all one after the other, which would be a good sign, but we can also be late for a while and catch up later. Banque Populaire V’s potential is greater than any other boat that has ever attempted the Jules Verne Trophy. It was designed for that. It already holds every offshore record on the planet. This is the only one missing! ”
Downwind, pushed by North / West stream, Maxi Banque Populaire V will then begin its journey around the world. Now stands a 21 760 miles challenge and a loop by the three Capes – Good Hope, Lizard and Horn. To write their names on the prestigious list of the Jules Verne Trophy and enter the offshore racing’s history, Loïck Peyron and his men will have to stop the WSSRC * timer before Monday, the 9th of January 2012 at 17h15min34. In the meantime, it is now time for sports and adventure and human performance.
*WSSRC : World Sailing Speed Record Council, organization that manages sailing records