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Thread: Joyon Departs Saturday For Tea Route Record

  1. #11
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    A Detour To The West

    Heading west...

    Francis has come to a decision. Between an option on the short route close to the coast of Africa, which would be slow, or a very long detour extending his route, he has decided to go west around the Doldrums that have stretched right out. IDEC SPORT is therefore taking advantage of a gentle trade wind via the northern face of the St. Helena high to enjoy some smooth sailing downwind, even if that means lots of gybes at ninety degrees to the direct route. His lead over Giovanni Soldini’s record has been going up and down between a day and a day and a half. Francis, Bertrand (Delesne), Christophe (Houdet), Antoine (Blouet) and Corentin (Joyon) are not at all worried. They still hope to finish in London after 31 days of sailing. Just as a reminder, Maserati’s set the record with a time of 36 days, 3 hours and 37 minutes.




    Napoleon’s hat

    “This evening, we hope to catch a glimpse of a cone-shaped island, which looks a bit like Napoleon’s hat.” Joyon’s little joke illustrates the serious yet relaxed atmosphere aboard the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran after eighteen days of racing. Each of the crew is enjoying the voyage and making the most of the fine sailing conditions down at these latitudes in the South Atlantic. “The sea is calm and the swell going in the same direction as the wind,” explained Joyon. “We are sailing smoothly without putting any pressure on the boat. What a huge difference after the chaotic Indian Ocean. The trade wind is not very strong, but it is allowing us to make decent headway. Over the past 48 hours, the main thing has been to stay in the corridor of wind on the edge of the centre of the St. Helena high. We are calculating the precise moment when we need to gybe to ensure we keep the best wind angle possible. Life has been a bit repetitive since the Cape of Good Hope, but we are remaining focused and that means we have been able to sail faster than shown on our route planner.”


    TRACKER


    Getting around the Doldrums via the west

    This race strategy involving rounding via the west the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, which early this week stretched right out, has led the maxi-trimaran towards a curious feature in the South Atlantic, the island of St. Helena, a place that Britain and France have known all about since the famous Emperor originally from Corsica stayed there after 1815 and until the end of his life six years later. For Joyon and his men who are all very interested in history, it also means the possibility of catching sight of some land and greenery this evening before dusk, as they will be approaching quite close to the volcanic island with its 800m high peak. Napoleon is said to have hated the absence of sunshine on the island. This feeling is shared by the crew of IDEC SPORT, who fully understand what he meant. “It is hot and sailing at more than 25 knots is pleasant,” declared Francis, “But we haven’t seen any sunshine since the Indian Ocean. There is a lot of low cloud and it is very dull.” This detail about the weather is not unimportant. IDEC SPORT deliberately set off with very little diesel for the engine, which is used to power the instruments aboard the boat, and now there is very little left. “We are just using our wind turbines and our solar panels to generate energy. The absence of sunshine may in the long run be a handicap. So today, we are setting up our second wind turbine,” concluded Francis.

    Quote from Bertrand Delesne

    “This is really a great trip, a fantastic voyage. We have been able to see the vastness of the oceans and it is hard to imagine what it must have been like aboard the sailing vessels in past centuries. We don’t get to sail much in this region and we hope to see St. Helena this evening. It is a rare opportunity for a sailor. We are going around the St. Helena high in the opposite direction to that usually sailed by round the world yachtsmen, as we are going via the north. Francis refused to follow Soldini’s option along the coast of Africa, which would have been too slow and unpredictable. So we are heading for Natal in Brazil. (Laughs). We have a good thousand miles to sail in this direction, before turning around to the north. We’re sailing along smoothly. During the day it is hot and at night it is dark. The boat is not suffering. We have been going around her regularly, as since leaving Port Louis in Brittany, she has clocked up more than 20,000 miles. Today’s big news is that we are opening another bag of supplies. We will be able to eat something different and improve on our diet of rice and noodles.”
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    Preparing To Leave The South Atlantic

    The tough face of the South Atlantic

    Each day comes with its particular difficulty. After twenty days of sailing and having clocked up more than 11,000 miles during her attempt at the Tea Route record, the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran is continuing her erratic climb up the South Atlantic. Very light easterly trade winds led the crew to carry out no fewer than eight gybes yesterday with one seemingly endless tack of more than 250 miles towards Brazil, at more than 100 degrees from the direct route. Francis Joyon, Bertand Delesne, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon have got back on a more profitable track since this morning as they make their way towards the Equator and are looking forward to leaving this endless South Atlantic behind them. There are no big speeds to hope for within the next three days... Ahead of them there are light, variable winds, which means the crew has to remain vigilant and respond quickly to changes.




    Peak speeds at 36 knots
    However, let there be no mistake about it. While the lead gained by IDEC SPORT, which at one point reached more than 750 miles, has shrunk over the past 36 hours, this is not down to a lack of speed out on the water. IDEC SPORT is fast remaining above 25 knots, with peak speeds recorded during the night of 33.6 knots. But in order to stay within a steady air stream, Joyon and his men have had to head off in an unusual direction at times, offering small gains in terms of progressing along the route. With 4000 miles left to sail to London, there is still some way to go before they reach the NE’ly trade winds with areas of light, variable airs to get through to the south of the Equator, which this morning was still almost 650 miles away. It is hard to clock up these miles with some powerful squalls causing IDEC SPORT to accelerate very quickly in the gusts on the beam reaching 36 knots from the east. This is keeping the crew very busy behind Francis who remains at the helm. “We have just passed through a small tropical low, and it was like a storm. The wind suddenly got up to above thirty knots. We found ourselves with too much sail up and rushed to reduce the sail… After the squall, the wind dropped off again.”


    TRACKER


    An adventurous route
    Today, they are rounding a small low-pressure system via the east, which is allowing them to gain some precious miles towards the north, but more importantly it should enable them to think about a different route from the one they had initially planned. IDEC SPORT has interrupted her route towards Brazil a little earlier than planned because of worsening conditions to the west. It looks like being a tough weekend having to deal with the Doldrums, which although not very powerful, have stretched right out in latitude and in longitude. “We have sailed the boat well since we got back in the Atlantic,” stressed Francis. “The crew are working hard and never think twice about changing a sail or gybing. We shall keep up this pace throughout the weekend and hope that the forecasts finally turn to our advantage.”
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    Into The Northern Hemisphere



    Francis Joyon and the crew of IDEC SPORT crossed the Equator this morning (Sunday) at around 1000hrs UTC after some slow progress and a a lot of difficulties getting way from the South Atlantic. In light westerlies blowing at around eight knots, the giant red trimaran is still making slow headway northwards. The very low average speeds for the trimaran mean that the lead over the Tea Route record has been considerable reduced.

    A fortnight ago, they had a lead of 750 miles and even two days ago the lead was more than 500 miles, but now IDEC SPORT’s lead has been cut to just 220 miles. The race against the clock is therefore back on.

    The race back on in the North Atlantic

    IDEC SPORT’s lead has fallen dramatically over the past two weeks. The crew had a comfortable lead of around two days over the record. It is true that Joyon and his men had to sail much further west than Soldini (Maserati), who took the direct route up the coast of Africa.

    Today and tomorrow, conditions are expected to remain light, which means it is unlikely that IDEC SPORT will be back up to her usual high speeds. The coming days are going to be interesting as IDEC SPORT is set to continue her route out to the west, while Maserati at that point continued to sail up the coast of Western Africa. We’ll be watching and keeping you informed.




    TRACKER


    https://www.idecsport.com/en/idec-sp...ce-is-back-on/
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    Out Of The Doldrums

    IDEC SPORT in the Doldrums

    23 days after setting sail from Hong-Kong on her attempt at the Tea Route record, the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran is currently dealing with that tricky stretch of sailing involving crossing the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, more commonly known as the Doldrums. This area of great instability in terms of the weather follows on from a difficult, slow weekend, during which the crew had to pass through a large area of calm conditions on either side of the Equator. Francis Joyon, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet, Corentin Joyon and Bertrand Delesne struggled for 48 hours in the intense Equatorial heat to keep the boat moving due north and cut across this area of light airs on the shortest route possible. The outcome remains positive for the men aboard IDEC SPORT, as their lead over the record holder, Italian skipper, Giovanni Soldini, which at one point fell to a mere 23 miles, has now increased once again in spite of all the difficulties. The way out of this tricky patch is not far ahead with some decent NE’ly trade winds blowing less than 50 miles ahead of the red and white trimaran.




    Today’s menu: the Doldrums
    “We haven’t yet encountered the sort of conditions associated with the Doldrums when they are powerful,” Francis Joyon told us. “For a few hours now, we have simply seen big lines of dark clouds. We’re not out of the woods yet and we can expect to have a few nasty surprises on this 24th day of sailing. It’s not yet time to get back up to high speeds.” All of the crew on IDEC SPORT think they are lucky, in spite of seeing their 800-mile lead melt away in just a few days. “We did look seriously at the route taken by the record holder Maserati back in 2018,” added Francis, “which was a shorter route cutting across the Gulf of Guinea along the coast of West Africa. But it would have given rise to a number of drawbacks with a lot of areas with thunderstorms and then long periods without any wind. Initially, our route took us close to the coast of Brazil to get around the Doldrums via the west where they were narrowest. But last Friday, a small tropical low quickly developed ahead of us and we had to round it via the east, which explains our route this weekend heading due north in a shallow low giving us a foretaste of the Doldrums.”


    TRACKER


    Heading for the trade winds
    Low speed and oppressive heat will be the features of the day. After that, once the Doldrums are clearly behind the maxi trimaran, the situation is looking more traditional withh some strong NE’ly trade winds and a rather tricky, yet interesting connection with the North Atlantic lows towards the Azores. Although far from being exhausted, the crew admits it has been rather tiring because of the difficulty or even impossibility of getting any useful sleep in the Equatorial heat. The light airs mean too that at the helm, they have to be even more efficient and precise and although the seas are calm, there is the start of a swell building due to the NE’ly winds. Generating energy and charging up the batteries are also a concern for the crew. “We are sailing in energy saving mode,” explained Francis. “We are almost out of diesel. The wind turbines and solar powered batteries are on, but the boat requires a lot of energy and we need to ration our supply often turning off all the electrical power aboard the boat.”

    With 3200 miles to go and with thirteen days to go to beat the record, the whole crew on IDEC SPORT are obviously dreaming of stepping up the pace in the trade winds and then in the powerful westerly air stream in order to finish in style.

    Quote: Corentin Joyon
    “Low speeds and a lack of sleep for two whole days... It is much too hot to sleep inside the boat. We have the record on our mind at all times. Fortunately we got a decent lead in the Indian Ocean, as the South Atlantic was complicated and never corresponded to our plans. We know that the exit from the Doldrums is not far away, which is encouraging us. We can’t wait to get the speed back up. Christian Dumard suggested we took the eastern route followed by Soldini in 2018. But he warned us that there would be a lot of thundery weather, so we went for the west and for the moment, we are still ahead of the record, even if it is close. With 23 days of non stop sailing, this has been my longest trip. I am in good shape. Since we crossed the Equator yesterday, it has felt like we are on our way home. If the sea state allows, we hope to go out with a bang.”
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    Back On Track




    “With the South Atlantic like that, we would never have smashed the Jules Verne Trophy record.” That was how Francis Joyon described the situation, still somewhat taken back by the vagaries of the South Atlantic at the start of this 26th day of racing. Yesterday, for the first time, he found himself behind the record pace for the Tea Route. Working hard with his crew, Francis has been busy since picking up the NE’ly trade winds trying to improve on the record pace. Sailing at more than 25 knots out on the water and at almost 16 knots on the direct route, he is now once again steadily increasing his lead and is now keeping a close watch on the vital transition phase to reach the North Atlantic low-pressure systems.




    The Doldrums were baffling

    “We weren’t messing around,” said Francis Joyon almost apologetically. “The Atlantic has not been very cooperative since we rounded the Cape of Good Hope. The systems were moving around unpredictably and very quickly and were quite the reverse of what we had on our weather charts. The Doldrums lived up to their reputation and were baffling. The boat slammed a lot in very choppy conditions, while we had very little pressure on our sails. The charts forecast the arrival of a NE’ly wind yesterday, a foretaste of the trade winds, but we found ourselves in a very light SW’ly air stream. We didn’t look at our position very often, but we suspected that Soldini and the crew of Maserati were doing well at that point back in 2018.”


    TRACKER


    Today, conditions have evolved favourably for IDEC SPORT, well positioned in an 18-knot “very classical” NE’ly trade wind, according to Francis, with the boat sailing on a long regular swell. The gap is widening again as the maxi trimaran is following a highly traditional route for this type of voyage to get back to Europe. “We are sailing on the usual route towards the west of the Azores, where it appears that the weather systems are getting in position to allow us to deal with a transition phase that is not too complicated.” Once bitten, twice shy after the recent unusual stretch, Francis refuses to give us any indication of his arrival time. “We’re pleased to be back in cooler conditions. With the spray, the wet weather gear is out again and it is now much easier to get some sleep at night. The crew is making the most of that and enjoying themselves after feeling rather down in the oppressive heat and with the low speeds.”

    With 2700 miles to go to the finish, all of the indicators are looking increasingly positive. IDEC SPORT is on a long starboard tack at a very tight angle, which should enable her to clock up almost 600 miles in 24 hours all the way to the Azores, which means they can look ahead serenely to entering the English Channel and then sailing up the Thames Estuary.
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  6. #16
    It looked pretty grim there for a while, but looks better now.

  7. #17
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    North Atlantic Dead Zone

    A tense weekend ahead

    The huge Atlantic Ocean is offering a series of weather difficulties to the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran. It is clear in the Northern Hemisphere, the air masses are battling it out violently and the sailing conditions are varying rapidly for the crew on their way to London and the finish of the Tea Route record. The trade winds are just about over for Francis Joyon and his men. Sailing close to the NE’ly wind on calm seas has meant that they have had favourable conditions to look after the boat heading due north towards the Azores. This is a better route than initially imagined, as they had thought that the red and white trimaran would have to go a long way west of the Portuguese islands. With the trade winds dying away this evening and tomorrow, Francis, Christophe, Bertrand, Antoine and Corentin will be back suffering light airs in the middle of the high, where there is no other option but to cross it. To the north of the islands, there are strong downwind conditions. How easily they pick up these winds will determine their success in this attempt at the historic route taken by the big sailing clippers of the past between China and Europe. This is clearly a complicated sea route, which has been full of surprises.

    Heading towards the Azores
    As complicated as you can imagine in the South, the Atlantic in the North looks more familiar to the men on IDEC SPORT. The trade winds will be over later today for the maxi trimaran, which was able to safely progress close to the direction of the wind with for a while a light, choppy sea holding her back, but it soon improved to allow the boat to sail smoothly. “After sailing almost 13,000 miles out on the water, we are still scared when we see the boat slamming,” explained Francis. “When the swell eased off and the sea became smoother, we were able to follow a route due north, which meant we gained a lot of miles.” While the high-speed sailing at almost 40 knots they experienced in the Indian Ocean is not something they have found in the Atlantic, IDEC SPORT has nevertheless kept up a decent average speed of 19.7 knots since the Cape of Good Hope, enabling her to achieve a lead of almost 300 miles over the record holder, the Italian crew on the trimaran, Maserati.




    36 difficult hours ahead
    “We will be sailing close to the Azores,” added Francis. “We are a bit worried about the wind shadow from the volcanic peaks, so we will remain some way off. It feels like home since we crossed the Equator. The weather patterns are familiar to us. It is true that the winter lows are deep, but sailing downwind, the boat copes well with the strong winds and heavy seas. Once past the Azores, we are expecting a strong SW’ly air stream in excess of thirty knots with 6m high waves. We know that the boat deals well with those conditions.” But before that 36 difficult hours lie ahead for Francis and his men as they pass through an area of high pressure. “The charts indicate merely three or four knots of wind during the night. If the sea remains calm, the sails will be flapping less and we should be able to make some slow headway now and then. Our latest forecasts suggest we should be entering the Thames on Wednesday 19th February. We have just finished our final bag of food. There is just the freeze-dried stuff left. It’s not what we like most and it appears to be encouraging the crew to push hard to get back home quickly… (laughs)”


    TRACKER


    A tense week-end
    We can see that there are still a number of difficulties on the way to London and the crew of IDEC SPORT will experience a wide range of conditions. Their lead which increased to more than 300 miles this morning is set to drop on this 28th day of sailing, as Giovanni Soldini and his men experienced some good conditions favouring high speeds close to the coast of Senegal at this point. The end of the week and the start of next week are going to be tense for Francis and his sailors, who are looking for quick access to the high speed race track supplied by the low pressure systems moving rapidly towards the Channel approaches, 1700 miles to their NE this morning.



    Quote: Bertrand Delesne
    “For several days now, we have been into the freeze-dried food. All of the good stuff has been eaten. With Christophe, we found a little flour and this morning, it was pancakes for everyone. We haven’t really had any exciting high-speed sailing of the type we had in the Indian Ocean. We are dealing with what we get, and we have seen just how hard this record is. We went through five or six fronts in the Indian Ocean. The South Atlantic was completely unpredictable and not very cooperative. We hope to get across this area between the high pressure systems and the the SW’ly winds offering downwind conditions. Personally, I have learnt a lot during this long voyage. We deal with each difficulty we encounter. One thing at a time. The high is building and the seas have calmed down. There is a nice sky associated with the trade winds. We shall be catching sight of the Azores and that is great.”
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    Pedal To The Metal For Joyon


    300 MILES AHEAD AT THE AZORES…

    This morning (Sunday), Francis Joyon and the crew of IDEC SPORT reached the Portuguese islands of the Azores. They are passing through the middle of the islands between Flores and Faial. Since yesterday, the maxi-trimaran has been back in conditions enabling her to get back up to high speeds. In a 20-knot NW’ly wind, the red and white maxi-trimaran is advancing at 32 knots towards the Channel approaches, which are still some 1200 miles ahead of her bows and which the crew expect to reach by Tuesday morning.

    (Now 510 Miles In Advance)






    TRACKER

    The strong NW’ly air stream that is accompanying IDEC SPORT and her crew should enable them to be propelled at around thirty knots to the Channel approaches. They will then have to sail up the English Channel before making their way into the Thames Estuary and heading to the finish line for the Tea Route under the QE II Bridge. The crew are getting an idea now of their ETA and can hardly wait to get back ashore after their long voyage from Hong Kong and a month of sailing. If IDEC SPORT maintains this pace, they could well finish in London late on Tuesday.
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    Survival Mode Finish For Joyon




    IDEC SPORT 700 miles from the record

    Less than 700 miles from the finish of the Tea Route record in London, the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran continues to extend her lead over the record holder, Giovanni Soldini’s trimaran, Maserati, sailed by an Italian crew. Francis Joyon, Christophe Houdet, Bertrand Delesne, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon have been managing to keep up high speeds since sailing to the south of the Azores, achieving an average of 27 knots on the direct route towards the Channel Approaches. The lead over the record has been growing steadily over the hours and now exceeds 700 miles. These figures do not reveal just how tough the conditions currently are. According to Francis Joyon, they are in “survival mode,” in violent squalls with waves in excess of 6 metres due to the series of storms that recently swept across Northern Europe. There will be a final gybe to carry out in the Celtic Sea, before the big, red and white trimaran tackles the final stretch of her long journey, which started more than thirty days ago in Hong Kong. The sail up the English Channel will be very tense because of the incredible amount of shipping. There will be no time for the crew to ease off before they pass under the QE II Bridge, which officially marks the end of this historic route, after sailing halfway around the world. IDEC SPORT is getting ready to complete this voyage in record time.

    More or less in survival mode

    “We have to remain vigilant and focused right up to the end.” Far from crying victory, Francis Joyon has asked his crew of four to be particularly cautious and concentrate on the task in hand. The strong NW’ly winds are far from being steady in strength and direction, and the periods spent at the helm are close to that of a high-wire act.



    TRACKER



    “The squalls are very violent and come without warning,” he said. “The wind suddenly strengthens so quickly that sometimes we find ourselves with a bit too much sail up. You then really have to hold on tight to the helm and wait for the squall to pass over while getting soaked in the heavy rain. In these conditions, and because of the sea state, we are between 20 and 30 percent below the full potential of the boat.” As they reach the Rochebonne Shelf with the sudden falls in depth, the sea conditions are not going to improve and this 31st day of racing looks like one of the most difficult for the crew. “The only way to move around the deck is by crawling,” added Francis. “We really need to be careful to avoid injuring ourselves when moving around. It’s a bit like being in survival mode at times.”

    A possible finish early on Wednesday

    In spite of the tense atmosphere, Francis and his men are in a hurry to finish. “These skies remind us of Brittany,” said Francis. “Behind the line of squalls, the skies clear with some brilliant light and sharp contrasts. That reminds us that our job is almost over. We will be keeping offshore to find a waypoint in the Celtic Sea, where we will carry out one final gybe before entering the English Channel. The wind will then be more or less due west and we will have to weave our way up the Channel between the coasts of Britain and France to aim for the Straits of Dover. We hope to finish early on Wednesday morning after just over 31 days of sailing. That time pleases us given the incredible number of weather systems we have had to deal with. The Tea Route is really amazing because of all the contrasting weather conditions.”
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    Out Of Fuel And Weakening Battery For Finish

    Epilogue, tomorrow morning at breakfast time

    Francis Joyon and the crew of the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran are expected to cross the finishing line for the Tea Route between Hong Kong and London tomorrow morning (Wednesday) between 7 and 9 a.m. After 32 days at sea, and having sailed almost 16,000 miles out on the water averaging almost 21 knots, Joyon and his crew are set to shatter the record held since 2018 by the Italian crew of the trimaran Maserati skippered by Giovanni Soldini by over four days. The reference time they set was 36 days, 2 hours, 37 minutes and 12 seconds.



    But before celebrating their victory as they pass under the QE II Bridge over the Thames, Francis and his men are going to have to deal with a series of difficulties today and tonight, starting with the fact that the wind has veered due west forcing them to tack downwind up and down across the Channel sometimes getting close to the coast of Cornwall and Southern England and sometimes approaching the French coast.




    TRACKER

    Out of energy
    Later tonight they will approach the Eastern coast of England and the IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran will enter a very tricky stretch as they enter the Thames Estuary with all its shipping, buoys and currents… a dangerous area that sailors prefer to navigate in daylight. Nothing is ever easy for Francis and this time he has run out of fuel and his batteries cannot be charged, so this zone will be particularly risky, as he will be sailing without his AIS and radar... Typical of what we have come to expect during Joyon’s adventures, you might say. The holder of the Jules Verne Trophy and winner of the last Route du Rhum has throughout his career experienced many similar unexpected situations and dealt with them successfully, with his incredible, untiring physical and mental resources making up for the technical deficiencies.

    With this Tea Route record, Francis will be bringing to an end an amazing voyage, which began on 19th October 2019, when he set sail from Port Louis in Brittany in the framework of the IDEC SPORT ASIAN TOUR, which has seen the record-breaker sail more than half way around the world and over the past four and a half months add four new records or reference times to his long list of achievements.
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