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Thread: Joyon Departs Saturday For Tea Route Record

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    Joyon Departs Saturday For Tea Route Record



    Francis Joyon to tackle the Tea Route record between Hong Kong and London

    Francis Joyon will begin the final Act of the IDEC SPORT ASIAN TOUR at around 0900hrs UTC on Saturday morning with an attempt at the Tea Route record. On this legendary route between Hong Kong and London, the reference time has been held since 2018 by the Italian, Giovanni Soldini. Once again with his small crew of four, including the boat captain Bertrand Delesne, the assistants and crewmen, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon and his faithful friend, Christophe Houdet, Francis will be sailing on the route he sailed to get to the Far East at the end of last year, but this time in the opposite direction and without stopping. During his outward voyage he set a new record for the Mauritius Route between Brittany and Mauritius and two new reference times for the trips between Mauritius and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and then between Vietnam and Shenzhen in China. His latest goal is to complete the voyage back to Europe in a time below that set by the 70-foot trimaran, Maserati and Giovanni Soldini’s crew of 36 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes, when they averaged 17.4 knots.




    Following the route taken by the big clippers of the past
    “We left Shenzhen yesterday for Hong Kong and the starting area for the record.” Francis is not planning to hang around and intends to set sail on Saturday morning at around 0900hrs UTC. By then, he will have carried out the final adjustments aboard the boat, tightening the tension of the mast and loading up the supplies for the long sprint that lies ahead of around 13,000 theoretical miles. “We have done our utmost in conditions that were not that simple to check the condition of the boat,” added Francis. “The crew is really enthusiastic about this so full of history, symbolising the trade between the British Empire and China. We shall indeed be bringing some tea back to London, as the big clippers of the past used to do. This time it will be organic tea from a fair trade source, as that was something that was important for Christophe Houdet.”

    Risk of a cyclone in the Indian Ocean and suspense in the Atlantic
    The route is largely characterised by the trade winds that the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran is looking forward to. “We shall be setting off in some decent conditions,” explained Francis. “They are nothing special, but it does mean sailing downwind in the NE’ly trade winds as we head towards the Sunda Strait and the awesome calms that punished us so much on the way out here. It looks like it is going to be particularly calm around the Equator. Once into the Indian Ocean, there is the risk of a cyclone, where we could face average winds of 35 knots, but we will continue to sail downwind.” Sailing the vast distances in the South and North Atlantic will as usual mean dealing with the large Saint Helena high pressure system in the South and the Azores high in the North, before we make our way right up the English Channel towards the Thames Estuary. “This Tea Route is really the big one for us in our epic adventure,” added the skipper of IDEC SPORT. “Christian Dumard, our weather advisor, expects to see us reach the Cape of Good Hope within the record time. So, there should be a lot of suspense on the climb back up the Atlantic.”
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    Joyon Jumps To Early Lead In Tea Route Record Route

    Francis Joyon set sail this morning on the Tea Route





    The IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran is back racing. Francis Joyon left Hong Kong this morning at 08:00:47 hrs UTC and is on his way to London in the framework of another record attempt: the Tea Route, for which the reference time has been held since 2018 by the Italian, Giovanni Soldini and the crew of the Maserati trimaran, who completed the voyage in 36 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes. To beat the record, Joyon and his crew have to finish in London by 11:36:58 on Sunday 23rd February.

    The fourth Act of the IDEC SPORT ASIAN TOUR, the Tea Route is without doubt the longest and hardest of the races. A voyage of around 17,500 miles lies ahead of the IDEC SPORT red maxi-trimaran, which won the last Route du Rhum when sailed solo and is still holder of the Jules Verne Trophy for the crewed round the world record.






    Moderate conditions for the start
    Francis Joyon never likes to hang around on stand-by waiting for the ideal weather opportunity. With countless records under his belt, he has often proved that his intuition was enough to achieve his goal. Soon after returning to China by plane last week and following on from some pleasant PR operations with the Chinese in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, Francis and his crew of four, Antoine Blouet, Christophe Houdet, Bertrand Delesne and his son, Corentin, decided to cast off on Saturday morning and cross the start line for this new adventure in the IDEC SPORT ASIAN TOUR, an attempt to beat the Tea Route record between Hong Kong and London. The start took place in moderate conditions, with the monsoon generating 15-knot NE’ly winds along the coast of China. More than 13,000 miles separate the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran from the finish in London. This is a huge voyage that the big clippers completed in several months. Francis and his men will have to complete the voyage in less than 36 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes to add this record to their list of achievements and finish their Asian tour in style.

    An initial phase that looks interestingly complicated
    “The weather opportunity is not that extraordinary, but it suits us.” How many times have we heard Francis say those words as he sets off to tackle a record that he ends up beating? He is off to the open seas again on this return voyage back to Europe in record mode with a crew. On the way out, there were three stages in the trip - Mauritius, Ho Chi Minh City and Shenzhen, but this time, he will be doing the trip in one go with the trade winds cooperating on paper, but that may not be the case. The studies carried out over the past few hours by Christian Dumard, his weather assistant, reveal a number of hurdles, starting with the crossing of the Equator around Singapore, and the passage through the Sunda Strait joining the Sea of China with the Indian Ocean, where there is usually the worrying combination of calms and strong head currents. The start of the race is likely to be slow according to Francis and his men, who believe they will reach the south of the Malaysian Peninsula in just over four days.







    A tricky Indian Ocean
    In the Indian Ocean in December there were powerful NE’ly trade winds, which forced IDEC SPORT to extend the voyage by almost 1500 miles sailing down close to the coast of Australia, but now there are rough seas with a series of low-pressure systems disturbing the steady flow. The situation changes quickly and Francis with his enthusiastic crew who understand the secrets of the maxi-trimaran, which has won the Route du Rhum three times and holds the Jules Verne record, hope to reach the Cape of Good Hope within the record time set by Giovanni Soldini. They are going to have to pray to the wind gods that the cyclones off the coast of Mozambique do not upset their plans. Speed and dealing with transitions are going to be key in the Indian Ocean, which should be fascinating intellectually and physically demanding. They are going to have to watch out for the Agulhas Current at the southern tip of Africa. Combined with the westerly winds, it could force IDEC SPORT to come to a halt, similar to that experienced by Lionel Lemonchois’s maxi-catamaran, Gitana 13 back in 2008, when he successfully completed the record.

    There is plenty to keep them busy after that with the South and North Atlantic, where in both cases they will have to get around huge high-pressure systems. “Rounding Saint Helena by the north and east looks like being the best solution for the moment,” explained Christian Dumard. “This means sailing along the coast of Namibia.” Then they face the Doldrums, Azores, the Bay of Biscay, the Engliish Channel and the Thames Estuary… so many episodes to come in the great adventure that lies ahead for Francis and his men.




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    Joyon Leads Reference By 180 nm After 2 Days



    The Tea Route : 180 miles ahead after two days of racing

    It is clear that in spite of the demanding conditions, everyone is enjoying being back sailing on the high seas, as they tackle their latest record attempt between Hong Kong and London. This morning, this has led to the crew of IDEC SPORT achieving a decent lead of more than 180 miles after the first days of racing over the time set by the holder of the Tea Route record, the 70-foot trimaran, Maserati. Francis Joyon and his crew of four have been making the most of a steady NE’ly wind offering them downwind sailing since Saturday. IDEC SPORT has carried out a series of gybes to get around the countless islands in the South of China Sea and is due to cross the Equator once again later today. This will mark the symbolic entry into the Southern Hemisphere and will coincide with the wind dropping right off for the giant trimaran. The way through to the Indian Ocean via the Sunda Strait will require a lot of patience and concentration.




    TRACKER


    Getting 86% of the boat’s potential
    “It was a relief to be able to set sail. We are pleased to be back at sea, as we enjoy this so much.” There is no changing Francis Joyon, who remains as ill at ease in large cities as ever. After an extremely brief stand-by period, the sailor who holds the Jules Verne Trophy and who won the last Route du Rhum, accompanied by Antoine Blouet, Christophe Houdet, Bertrand Delesne and his son, Corentin, enthusiastically took on the role once again of record breaker. “We are pushing as hard as we can, remaining hard at work and concentrating on getting the trimming just right,” explained Francis. “With the help of Christian Dumard, our weather expert back on dry land, I have stuck up charts in the cockpit indicating all our polars and speeds, knot by knot.” Whatever the situation, the wind angle, sea state and wind strength, the crew knows exactly where to aim for in terms of speed. “We are getting 86% of the boat’s potential. We can do better than that!” joked Francis. Being so demanding means that after just two days of racing in this attempt to smash the Tea Route record, they have achieved a substantial lead over the time set by Giovanni Soldini. “It took us just one day to sail the stretch that took us three days on the way out,” said Bertrand Delesne, the boat captain. “It’s fantastic to be sailing downwind,” added Joyon. “We have slimmed down the boat as much as possible,” he explained. “We even left our tender behind in Hong Kong. Giovanni and his crew were very quick in the transition phases. We are going to have to keep up with their pace in the coming days in some very light airs around the Equator and on the passage through the Sunda Strait. We hope to enter the Indian Ocean within two days and a few hours. Crossing the China Sea in less than five days would be good enough for us.”




    Due to slow down
    In the next few hours, the situation will change drastically in this race. After averaging more than 27 knots out on the water in the first 1300 miles, later today, they will find conditions that are increasingly calm. “Now, we only have sixteen knots of wind,” said Joyon. “We are approaching the Natuna Regency in the hope of benefiting from a bit more wind. The seas have calmed down somewhat and there is not as much shipping around. We deliberately avoided the Vietnamese peninsula to get way from all the fishing boats. But as we approach Malaysia, we will once again encounter lots of cargo vessels and all sorts of shipping.”
    They remain cautious, vigilant and are focusing on the boat, although the atmosphere is very warm and it is rather like being part of a big family. “We have just begun a very long voyage,” explained Bertrand Delesne. “I think my longest trip so far has been 26 days aboard a Class40. This record aboard what is an extraordinary boat takes us into a different dimension. Everyone is working well together aboard, under the watchful and experienced eye of Francis. Stowing the supplies aboard in China was a moment of discovery. It is hard to move around the cockpit between the bags of Chinese noodles and other culinary surprises.”
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    Back In The Breeze



    TRACKER

    Francis Joyon and crew have moved out of the light winds of Sunda Strait and back into better winds as the Maxi Trimaran enters the Indian Ocean. The lead over the
    standard made by Maserati has grown to 427nm .



    THE SUNDA STRAIT IN LESS THAN FOUR DAY

    The IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran passed through the famous Sunda Strait marking the entry into the Indian Ocean to the South of Malaysia shortly after three last night. Francis Joyon, Bertrand Delesne, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon took just under four days to cross the South China Sea after setting sail from Hong Kong last Saturday. This morning they had a lead of more than 300 miles over the record pace set by the Tea Route record holder, the 70-foot trimaran, Maserati skippered by the Italian, Giovanni Soldini. The wind has been very light since crossing the Equator yesterday, but it never left the sails of the maxi trimaran, which has started to tack across the huge Indian Ocean. The trade winds were present in December when they set the record to Ho Chi Minh City, but now they are being disturbed by a lot of small low-pressure systems and the Famous Five will be kept busy over the coming days trying to pick up stronger winds to the SW after dealing with an area that is very similar to the Doldrums.



    THE SUNDA STRAIT IN LESS THAN FOUR DAY

    The IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran passed through the famous Sunda Strait marking the entry into the Indian Ocean to the South of Malaysia shortly after three last night. Francis Joyon, Bertrand Delesne, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon took just under four days to cross the South China Sea after setting sail from Hong Kong last Saturday. This morning they had a lead of more than 300 miles over the record pace set by the Tea Route record holder, the 70-foot trimaran, Maserati skippered by the Italian, Giovanni Soldini. The wind has been very light since crossing the Equator yesterday, but it never left the sails of the maxi trimaran, which has started to tack across the huge Indian Ocean. The trade winds were present in December when they set the record to Ho Chi Minh City, but now they are being disturbed by a lot of small low-pressure systems and the Famous Five will be kept busy over the coming days trying to pick up stronger winds to the SW after dealing with an area that is very similar to the Doldrums.





    Slow ahead?
    What lies ahead looks much trickier. In the next 48 hours, the big trimaran will not be back at the high speeds we are used to seeing. Francis and his men are going to have to squeeze their way around areas of light airs. The change will come further to the SW where they will pick up stronger winds. This will allow them to make headway towards the West and the southern tip of Africa, where there is a small tropical low-pressure system they will have to round far to the south. It is there that IDEC SPORT will encounter violent winds and heavy seas.
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    Surf's Up For IDEC Sport


    FRANCIS JOYON SURFING AT 38 KNOTS ACROSS THE INDIAN OCEAN

    The IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran has been showing her real efficiency over the past two days, as she passes through the heart of the Indian Ocean. Francis Joyon, Christophe Houdet, Bertand Delesne, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon have continued to accelerate since passing through the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra on Wednesday, allowing them to increase their lead over the record time for the Tea Route. With a lead of 620 miles at the start of the seventh day of racing, Joyon and his lads have not finished roaring across the ocean showing high performance levels. Their efficient tack should last another 24 hours with speeds reaching 38 knots as they surf the waves, which means the lead should grow even bigger. The first major difficulties are expected this weekend with some small cyclonic areas that they will have to get around in the southern latitudes, where they will encounter icy conditions, strong winds and heavy seas.


    TRACKER


    Faster than expected
    At the start of this seventh day of racing, IDEC SPORT has clocked up a good lead and has been faster than expected when they studied the charts. “We dared not even hope of passing through the Sunda Strait in less than four days,” explained Christophe Houdet, who has recovered from the food poisoning, which upset his first few days sailing in amongst the wild islands of the Sea of China. “It is true that we haven’t sailed many more miles than necessary,” added Francis. “We had to gybe a lot to get to the Sunda Strait, but we remained more or less on the direct route.” Having sailed more than 3200 miles out on the water averaging 22 knots, IDEC SPORT only sailed around 350 miles more than the Great Circle Route. On the way out as they sailed across the Indian Ocean, we saw that Joyon and his men sailed an extra 1500 miles close to the coast of Australia.

    A weekend in the Far South
    “We’re sailing close to the wind with full mainsail and J1,” explained Francis. “Our goal is more speed rather than bearing. In the coming hours, we are going to have to dive further south. Our current high speeds on seas that have varied a lot from smooth to chaotic, means we have to look at some tactical choices to get around the powerful small areas of low pressure which are developing to the East of Madagascar.” The t-shirts and shorts they are wearing today will be replaced by fleeces and wet weather gear. “We should be able to maintain these speeds and continue to make good headway over the next 700 miles,” added Francis. “But the gateway to the Cape of Good Hope is for us down at around 40°S. We need to keep good watch all the time, with our hands on the sheets, as we have to deal with a series of fairly violent squalls. We are not with the decent trade winds we had on the way out. We are surfing along, but it’s more up and down.”




    The crew are still enjoying themselves sailing the maxi trimaran. “It’s a huge pleasure. We’re really pleased to be sailing in these waters and in this way,” said Christophe Houdet. “The mist during the record-breaking trip to Ho Chi Minh City meant we missed out on the wonders of the China Sea that we have been able to discover this week. Tropical islands with incredible colours with huge unspoilt beaches. A paradise. Discovering these places on a boat that transports you at high speed is a privilege and we are savouring every second. I have just taken the helm. IDEC SPORT has accelerated easily to 38 knots... It’s amazing!”
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    The Indian Ocean Proves Violent




    In the violence of the Indian Ocean...

    Over the past five days or so, the Indian Ocean has offered a series of contrasts to Francis Joyon and his crew of four aboard the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran. While the boat which has won the Route du Rhum three times has maintained a record pace averaging 23 knots over the 5000 miles they have sailed out on the water, it has been an uncomfortable ride and that has been increasingly the case over the weekend, as they passed to the south of two very active low-pressure systems gradually moving to the east of Madagascar. Rain, reduced visibility, violent winds and a heavy swell from the north have shaken up the crew and punished the trimaran. IDEC SPORT has managed to stay more than 600 miles ahead of the boat that holds the record for the Tea Route, the 70-foot trimaran, Maserati, which was very fast in this part of the course. There are still some huge difficulties ahead for Francis and his men, before they pass the Cape of Good Hope and return to the South Atlantic with a number of transition zones, involving a number of strategic gybes that they are going to have to deal with in extremely variable conditions with low pressure systems moving in from the West and some areas of high pressure.




    A broken mainsail halyard...
    “We are not at our full potential for the moment,” explained Francis Joyon this morning. “The seas are still rough and slowing us down and since yesterday we have been sailing with two reefs in the main after our mainsail halyard broke. The seas are still too heavy for us to work safely up the mast and we are going to wait until tomorrow morning for things to calm down. Unfortunately the wind is set to ease off in the coming hours and under reduced sail, it will affect our speed.” Joyon and his men are not however particularly worried. It has been nine days now since they left Hong Kong and they have a comfortable lead over the record of around the equivalent of a day’s sailing at the speed at which their rival Maserati was achieving at this point back in 2018.




    At the Cape of Good Hope in 5 or 6 days
    The Indian Ocean continues to show its wild side with active low-pressure systems and vast areas of high pressure in the far South. Joyon has to find his way through and gybe at the right moment as the approach the transition zone. The maxi trimaran is set to continue her route southwards for a few more hours as they wait for some NW’ly winds before gybing on seas that will finally start to calm down. Joyon and his men are going to have to repeat that action several times before reaching the ever so tricky tip of South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. They should be able to maintain their lead of a full day’s worth of sailing at a decent speed.

    https://www.idecsport.com/dans-la-violence-de-lindien/
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    Good Hope In Less Than 15 Days?




    With more than 770 miles ahead, this morning, on the record holder of the Tea Route, Francis Joyon can hope to cross the symbolic mark of the Cape of Good Hope within 4 days, a little less than 15 days after. his departure from Hong Kong. In particularly tortuous weather conditions, the chain of weather systems that put the small crew of four men to the test, Francis Joyon traces a beautiful trajectory in the maritime desert of the southern Indian Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean calls it, with its beautiful promises of genuinely buoyant winds, ideal for further extending the stride and increasing the lead on the record.

    "We are sailing behind the systems!" "
    Forgotten the damage, passed the cyclones, IDEC SPORT emerges from 48 very difficult hours with a substantial lead over its virtual adversary, holder of the Tea Route record. "We took advantage of the calm area before dawn yesterday to change our mainsail halyard," explains Joyon. “Antoine Blouet went up to the masthead, and 30 minutes later, we returned the mainsail and resumed our journey. Behind the two active cyclone centers, the maxi trimaran connects fast-moving weather systems to the East at high speed. "We are navigating the reverse of systems," laughs Francis. “We crossed a thalweg that night, with a north wind followed by a calm zone, then very quickly, the wind came from the South, very cold from Antarctica, accompanied by gusts. The boat was lifting a lot on a messy sea. Now we are approaching the center of the high pressure. We have only 12 knots of wind and we are about to veer to set sail south on starboard tack. We are not idle, because all these sequences generate a lot of maneuvers… ”With a new depression to be negotiated tonight, the approach phase to the South of the African continent is still proving to be just as tactical. "We cogitate a lot on board" admits Francis. “The whole crew is very concerned by the analysis of our routes, well supported by Christian Dumard, always as precise in their forecasts. " We are not idle, because all these sequences generate a lot of maneuvers… ”With a new depression to be negotiated tonight, the approach phase to the South of the African continent is still proving to be just as tactical. "We cogitate a lot on board" admits Francis. “The whole crew is very concerned by the analysis of our routes, well supported by Christian Dumard, always as precise in their forecasts. " We are not idle, because all these sequences generate a lot of maneuvers… ”With a new depression to be negotiated tonight, the approach phase to the South of the African continent is still proving to be just as tactical. "We cogitate a lot on board" admits Francis. “The whole crew is very concerned by the analysis of our routes, well supported by Christian Dumard, always as precise in their forecasts. "



    TRACKER


    Four very tactical days before Good Hope
    Faced with a swell from the West lifted by the last depression, IDEC SPORT types and sees its race often slowed down. But Francis, Christophe (Houdet), Antoine (Blouet), Bertrand (Delesne) and Corentin (Joyon) have a clear vision of their route to Bonne Espérance. They will continue this little game of adaptation to the weather systems that progress on their way. The entry into the Atlantic arouses some impatience on board: “We are a little fed up with these gaits going upwind, even upwind. We are waiting for the real downwind and sliding in the South Atlantic, ”admits Corentin, the youngest on board. “We hoped for the trade wind in the Indian. We didn't get it. We adapt ! "Underlines, philosopher, Francis Joyon. "




    The Indian, this desert ...
    IDEC SPORT traces its furrow alone in the south of the Indian Ocean. Francis measures and appreciates its magnitude and its splendor. “The passage through La Sonde Strait was horrible. It is a place where over a hundred miles the China Sea dumps plastic waste. We saw floating all kinds of filth, bottles of gas, fridges and plastics by the thousands ... We had to go far into the Indian to find crystal clear waters. For several days, we have been enjoying this totally deserted universe. Only two small liners reported to AIS. We also had the pleasure of being accompanied for two days by two albatrosses with white capes. They had fun with us, going from one side to the other on the back of the boat. An enchantment! Life on board is perfectly suited to the rhythms of a record. "The crew are happy, and eat a lot," said Captain Francis. “These first 11 days of racing allowed us to have a more precise idea of ​​our food consumption. We are relieved to see that our supplies were well calibrated and we will be able to continue to eat well until the end, despite the big appetites on board. We are polar and waxed but it is not really cold. The temperatures are similar to those that can be experienced on summer nights in Brittany. " We are polar and waxed but it is not really cold. The temperatures are similar to those that can be experienced on summer nights in Brittany. " We are polar and waxed but it is not really cold. The temperatures are similar to those that can be experienced on summer nights in Brittany. "

    He said: Corentin Joyon
    "It's a great trip and a great adventure. We have a good lead and we look forward to Good Hope. We have all been very busy in recent days, with very complicated weather. Our three-hour shift systems work well. I am in pair with Christophe Houdet. We manage to rest well and recover well. I discovered albatrosses for the first time. It was quite fascinating to watch. We really move in the desert, far from everything. Strange and rather pleasant feeling. It's nice to think that there are still preserved places on earth. Our advance makes us happy. There is a way to increase it even more… ”
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    IDEC SPORT at the Cape of Good Hope tomorrow

    Francis Joyon, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet, Bertrand Delesne and Corentin Joyon will reach the halfway point of their long journey on the Tea Route. Tomorrow morning (UTC) they will cross another symbolic mark on the voyage between Hong Kong-London, when they round the Cape of Good Hope a few hours after passing Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, which marks the point of entry back into the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of the numbers, the men aboard the boat can smile, as when she rounds the famous Cape tomorrow, IDEC SPORT will be around one and a half days ahead of the record pace set by the record holder, Giovanni Soldini and his Italian crew whose 70-foot trimaran, Maserati set a reference time from Hong Kong of 16 days, 2 hours and 25 minutes. The final day in the Indian Ocean looks like being just as tricky as those that came before.




    With the African coast close by, IDEC SPORT, has been fast this morning in winds in excess of thirty knots, but will have to deal with the infamous Agulhas Current. This is one of the strongest and steadiest surface currents in the world and can sometimes exceed six knots. It runs down the eastern coast of South Africa towards the SW and will propel the maxi trimaran in the right direction. But as nothing is easy in this record attempt, the strong currents and headwinds will whip up a swell that does not favour smooth sailing. With 400 miles to go before returning to the Atlantic, Joyon and his men will once again have to deal with various strategic choices before picking up winds to allow them to sail downwind. “We’re going to have to deal with two transition phases today and tomorrow with a trough we need to cross and something we always fear, the passage of a front with lots of gusts, which will hit the boat and mean we will have to be extra cautious on the sheets, “ explained Francis. So no high speed sailing ahead for now and maybe even some light airs. Good Hope, like the other capes is something you have to work hard for.

    A capricious Indian Ocean all the way
    “We had hoped that the Indian Ocean would resemble the North Atlantic from East to West,” smiled Joyon. “It wasn’t like that. The trade winds simply were not there and since Indonesia the small low pressure systems have turned into transition zones with calms, so the crew and the boat are pretty tired now, as these transitions and periods crossing through fronts required a lot of manoeuvres, and generated a lot of stress when the wind gusted. The sea never really smoothed down because of the cyclic areas and never matched the wind direction.” When they reach the Cape of Good Hope tomorrow shortly after lunchtime according to the latest routing plans, IDEC SPORT will finish the first half of this long voyage of more than 13,000 miles on the direct route after 14 days and a few hours. This performance has nevertheless been achieved with average speeds above 22 knots out on the water.



    TRACKER


    In the African heat
    After the Indian Ocean where the trade winds were missing, the whole crew is looking forward to downwind sailing. “After the Cape of Good Hope, we will pick up some SE’ly winds and the climb back up the coast of South Africa and Namibia is looking good,” said a delighted Antoine Blouet. “We know that we will be sailing in warm waters where there a lot of cetaceans, which is why we want to avoid getting too close to the coast. It’s out of the question for us to take the risk of hitting whales and seals, which live along the coast. The Atlantic means we are nearing home. It has been nice to sail in places that ocean racers don’t usually get to. It’s a long journey and our options are still not clear for our route around the St. Helena high. We’re pleased about our lead over the record pace. This is an incredible voyage. Sailing in the context of a competition is new to me. I was very stressed at the start, but I have found my place on board and am really enjoying myself.”
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    Run To Cape of Good Hope Eclipsed by 8 Hours and 56 Minutes




    Francis Joyon has rounded the Cape of Good Hope

    Crossing the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope today at 1:30 hrs UTC, Francis Joyon and his crew of four completed the first half of their attempt at the Tea Route record, which has been held since 2018 by Giovanni Soldini’s Italian crew.

    14 days, 17 hours, 29 minutes after leaving Hong Kong, and having sailed 7666,3 miles averaging 21,7 knots out on the water, they have clocked up a lead of one day, 8 hours, 56 minutes over the record time. This is a particularly remarkable performance given the conditions they encountered particularly in the Indian Ocean, which was far from being cooperative with the absence of the trade winds forcing the maxi trimaran to zig-zag her way around the bubbles of low pressure against the prevailing weather systems of the Southern Ocean.





    TRACKER

    A fast China Sea
    Contrary to expectations after what they experienced on the way out in the framework of the two records they set between Mauritius and Ho Chi Minh City and from Vietnam to Shenzhen, the China Sea revealed its friendlier face from the start in Hong Kong on Saturday 18th January, apart from the heavily polluted waters.... A decent NW’ly wind enabled them to sail smoothly downwind and while the crossing of the Equator proved difficult in December, this time it went without hitch. The maxi trimaran managed to maintain a good average speed as she made her way between the many paradise islands to the west of Borneo. Francis and his men were therefore able to make their way through the Sunda Strait, the gateway to the Indian Ocean, by 22nd January. At that point, they had already achieved a substantial lead of almost 300 miles over Giovanni Soldini’s trimaran. On cross seas, but with a strong SE’ly air stream, Francis extended his lead achieving his best day in the Indian Ocean covering 645 miles at an average speed of 26.9 knots. He regularly increased the gap over the record time reaching 829 miles last Wednesday.

    Cyclone alert
    The Indian Ocean then became much less cooperative. On the second day of sailing, all eyes on board focused on two centres of low pressure, which were deepening to the east of Madagascar. IDEC SPORT turned to the south remaining at good speed, in spite of steeper waves. This detour led Joyon and his men down into the far South at almost 37 degrees South. With cold weather and the first sight of albatrosses, the men on IDEC SPORT enjoyed sailing in these extreme conditions, something that Francis had done many times before during his long career. A small upset occurred at the start of the second week of racing, when a worn halyard gave up the ghost forcing the big trimaran to sail for several hours under reduced sail while awaiting quieter conditions to carry out repairs as quickly as possible. Antoine Blouet climbed to the top of the mast as soon as the seas eased off a bit, and IDEC SPORT got back into her race with a huge obstacle course ahead of her with troughs, transitions and fronts to deal with.





    The Indian in the opposite direction
    “We are sailing in the opposite direction to the weather systems,” explained Francis after ten days of testing sailing conditions. They needed to round some high pressure centres and some lows often with the wind on the beam or even upwind. IDEC SPORT bounced from one system to another, shaken up by the violent passage of weather fronts, which forced the short-handed crew to work hard to set the sails just right and above all to deal with the rapid wind changes and seas that caused the big trimaran to lift up her floats and bows.

    Act 2: Hello to the Atlantic
    Francis, Christophe, Antoine, Corentin and Bertrand feel somewhat relieved to be back in the Atlantic. They can now look forward to smoother sailing in the southern part of the ocean with the air warming up off the continent of Africa. They are sailing close to the coast and pods of cetaceans and seals, which live in these warm waters. 6000 miles lie ahead in the Atlantic and their progress will be determined largely by how the Azores and St. Helena high-pressure systems behave. Looking at how they have performed so far, finishing in London may be possible on around 15th or 16th February. To beat Giovanni Soldini’s record, IDEC SPORT must reach the Thames before 1036hrs UTC on 23rd February.
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    Dealing With St Helena

    The Indian Ocean is behind them and now they face St. Helena. Francis Joyon and his crew of four were clearly pleased and relieved to return to the Atlantic yesterday morning. Christophe Houdet, Bertrand Delesne, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon keep repeating that the Indian Ocean was a huge discovery for them, full of surprises, which were not always that pleasant in terms of sailing and performance. 14 days of sailing against the weather systems and heavy westerly swell saw the maxi trimaran exposed to big waves and a bumpy ride that sailors rarely appreciate.




    The Atlantic Ocean with its long neat swell in the same direction as the wind was something they immediately recognised once past the latitude of Cape Town and was appreciated by Joyon and his lads. Now it is time for smoother sailing and the men on board can focus on getting the best performance out of the boat paying careful attention to when it it right to gybe in order to stay in the air stream that will allow them to round the famous St. Helena high via the East and North.

    Time for smooth sailing
    “It was tricky rounding the Cape,” openly admitted Francis Joyon. “The wind would suddenly strengthen and the final gybe under gennaker in strong winds was rather surprising and led us too close to the Cape. It was dark, so we only saw the lights.” As If by magic, once past the large South African city, the Atlantic welcomed IDEC SPORT in the best way possible offering downwind sailing in the direction of the wind and the swell. “We are enjoying this smooth sailing,” explained Francis. “The Indian Ocean is full of secrets and we didn’t discover them all. It has its moods that cannot be seen in the weather charts. Returning to the Atlantic is a bit like getting back in your own garden. Everyone is smiling. We joked around a bit this morning when we sailed to the west of Luderitz, the famous place in Namibia for trying to break speed records, where Corentin, Antoine, Christophe and Bertrand would have loved to go surfing for a moment...”


    TRACKER

    Rounding St. Helena via the North
    The lead over the Tea Route record holder has continued to increase to approach 800 miles on this 17th day of racing. “We will continue to sail downwind moving gradually away from Africa,” explained Francis. “We are trying to round the high via the North, hoping to pick up the SE’ly trade winds on a route to the west of the Doldrums, which seem to have stretched right out. Everything can change very quickly between now and when we cross the Equator.”

    Still remaining attentive to how the boat is being sailed, her performance and the condition of the men on board, Joyon is making the most of this amazing voyage. “Just after the Cape, we saw a huge pod of dolphins, maybe 200 or 300, who were enjoying themselves in the wake of the boat. There were a lot of different types of birds in the sky. In the distance, we spotted a few large mammals. In spite of our curiosity, we kept well away from them.”

    Quote from Christophe Houdet
    “Curiously, we are in no hurry to return. Personally I am making the most of every second of this voyage. We are privileged to be sailing in very quiet waters in some fascinating seascapes. Life on board is like a dream. The atmosphere is very friendly and we’re all pulling together and looking after each other. Francis is keeping an eye on the squalls and is always ready to intervene, as he always remains focused on the performance of the boat. We are taking care of the boat. Our gybes are being done as smoothly and painlessly as possible. The weather is dull today, so we are looking forward to some sunshine. We are in perfect physical shape and well rested. We are finishing the second of the three bags of “nice” food. We’re all looking forward to seeing what is in the final bag. After that, it will be freeze-dried stuff. At that point we may be in more of a hurry to get home.”
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