Vendee Globe: Hugo Boss inches away.

So far so good for the tenacious Brit on his fourth attempt to get his Knighthood, I mean, win the Vendee Globe. Personally I reckon the big job now is to be steady and cool and not get too psyched by being in front. I am sure he’d rather be there than in some of the other positions he has been in during his three previous races. Right about now 4 years ago I think he was fixing one of the rudder connecting rods after the Watt and Sea came adrift and busted said rod. Ever the Sponsors Man, he recorded it on board the boat with Hugo Boss logos everywhere. And of course this time, he is posting positions on the Alex Thompson website, so more eyeballs again. THIS is great sailing as marketing tool thinking

The other two leaders are putting the yards (meters?) on the top of the next group. Currently in second is Seb Josse on his third Vendee Globe. Just the short version of his CV includes a fourth in the first leg of the 1999 Mini-Transat, a second in the 2001 Solitaire du Figaro-A four or five leg stage race soloin 33 foot one design boats, around the Bay of Biscay and the western approaches to the English Channel. ‘The Figaro’ is THE training ground for the serious French solo sailor, and lately Brits too. Josse was a part of the crew and so, co-holder, of the Trophy Jules Verne aboard the Maxi Cat Orange, nee PlayStation. Third in the TJV with Isabelle Autissier in ‘03, fifth in the Vendee globe in ‘05, fourth in the ’06 VOR on ABN Amro 11 including a 24-hour speed record. You get the picture. He is sailing for the financial house of Edmund de Rothschild, long a prominent name in sailing with a collection of Gitana’s.

In third lies Armel Le Cleac’h, presently 92 miles astern of The Boss. Le Cleac’h is another professional sailor with a long history of big time racing. Figaro, World Champion in IMOCA (these Open 60’s) fourth in the Route du Rhumb, France’s answer to the OSTAR. A second place, twice, in the 2009 and 2013 Vendee Globe gave him the scent no doubt.

Interestingly when researching the basic stats of the boats, the beam of Hugo boss is not given. But Thompson has the most upwind sail of the three leaders at 340 sqm. Compared to Le Cleac’h at 300 and Josse at 290. He is also a tenth of a metric tonne lighter, 7.5 vs. 7.6. And, in what must be an enormous mental boost for Thompson and a bit of a ‘WTF’ moment for the rest, is the fact Hugo Boss was abandoned in the 2015 Transat Jacques Vabre, in November after being launched 01 September. After being recovered, a nice bit of work in itself I reckon, Thompson’s team spent six months rebuilding her again. And a slight bit of sailing trivia for you Thompson’s co-skipper in the abandoned TJV was the same Spaniard, Guillermo Altadill, (the most successful sailor no one has ever heard of) who was aboard High Noon, the youth boat that blitzed the 2016 Newport to Bermuda race.

Second and third are 89 and 92 miles astern of the Boss, and after that the distances really exercise the bungy cord. From fourth through tenth, they are respectively: 123, 195, 207, 285, 442, 575 and 619. And we are not talking about the rookies here either. Just in this group are a total of 17 (including this one) Vendee Globe races from a total of 43 previous races within the fleet.

From todays interviews with the sailors, Sébastien Josse remarks on the increasing discomfort aboard the boats in this race. ‘With each Vendée Globe it’s worse and worse. In my first one, I had a comfortable bed, but now it’s really uncomfortable and it’s hard to sleep’. Having boat speed is a great way to win a sail boat race but it does have its down side in a three-month race. Josse again:

When the boat is above 18-19 knots, it’s hard to move around. It’s noisy and it’s impossible to sleep with all the banging. It’s less comfortable than a multihull.

Then there are the forces these boats are subjecting themselves to. The following remark was made while the boats are sailing in 15 knots of true wind. We’re at the maximum loads for the boat. In the Southern Ocean we won’t be able to do that.”

If you did not know Thompson, (is British) it might be easy to infer it from his remarks from the same body of ocean. “It’s a bit bumpy. He goes on: (In this cut and paste from the VG news section whose work is duly recognized)

It is pretty amazing to be on a boat which in 16-17kts of breeze I can average 22kts. The breeze has finally come left a bit to allow Hugo Boss to lift up her skirts a little bit and go a bit faster. I have a bit more breeze for a few hours and then it will lighten up and drop a little bit before tomorrow when we will start a real fast, fast dash for three or four days towards the Cape of Good Hope. I could not have asked for it to be positioned more perfectly. It is a very normal scenario this. It is developing just to the south of us and will move down, and I will be able to stay ahead of it. I think just this lead pack will be able to stay with it. We will be with this low pressure for quite a while. I think Seb is right. This is going to be the first big test for the boats. I am imagining a wind angle of about 120 to 125 degrees true, sailing in 23-26kts of wind. Depending on the wave conditions is what will decide how fast the boats go. To be honest if it was flat water in those wind conditions my boat could average over 30kts. With waves I don’t expect to be going much faster than I am now, to be honest 22-24kts maybe. Today I will prepare the boat a little, re-tidy up, re-stack, and I will try and get as much sleep as I can in the next 24 hours. I have a little composite job to do, just to make sure everything really is ready, make sure my sail plan is correct for when it comes, make sure my contingencies are ready, make sure I am fresh to be able to hit the turbo button when it arrives. I guess we are going to find out how strong these boats are now. Who will be ready to lift the foot first? Show the French you have learned? I think these boats…well the limit is quite obvious. You know when you have to slow down. Last night I had to slow down. 24 hours before the Cape Verdes you get slowed down. You get told by the boat. The boat tells you when to slow. It is as demanding now as in more wind. We do not need a lot of wind. The more wind, the more waves, the slower you go.”

We’re not in Kansas any more Toto.

Newport to Bermuda Race-What sails?

Sails for offshore and the Newport to Bermuda Race:

The Newport to Bermuda Race, sailed in even numbered years and it’s counterparts that are sailed in odd numbered years, The Marion to Bermuda Race and The Bermuda 1-2 are something of a right of passage for many US sailors, especially those in the north east. While not particularly long in terms of famous ocean races, the weather across the track can make for some pretty hard going, more so for the unprepared. The Bermuda race is roughly the same distance as the Sydney to Hobart race and the Fastnet race but as has been seen in both these races distance is not the only factor to contend with when preparing to race (sail) ‘only’ 650 or so miles.

The Newport to Bermuda Race committee is rightly proud of their safety record (only one loss of life in the race’s history) and so the organizers hunt and peck from a variety of sources and mandate a few of their own safety regulations in some cases.

The default regulations for offshore sailing, including things like required equipment, the boat’s structure and training are the Offshore Special Regulations, known as offshore regs.

Front cover of the World Sailing Offshore Special Regs, aka the 'Offshore Regs.'

Front cover of the World Sailing Offshore Special Regs, aka the ‘Offshore Regs.’

This booklet-sized document contains these regulations promulgated by International Sailing Federation, ISAF, now called World Sailing. It covers all manner of particulars to do with getting to the finish in the same boat you started with and all the same crew you started with. It is EXTREMELY hard won information and a very informative read for anyone thinking of going maybe anywhere in a sailing boat.

It is however somewhat Euro-centric in that everything is cross-referenced to an ISO number. For the layman it is a bureaucratic black hole. To make things a bit easier for US sailors US Sailing started a few years ago to develop their own prescriptions for requirement for races in the US. The result is a document a normal person can read and defines the gear required for the boat for three categories of racing, not six, called by USSailing: the Safety Equipment Regulations (SER’s) and the three categories are Ocean, Coastal & Nearshore.

Finally the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee list their own requirements based on their very extensive research, surveys after each race and the vast experience in some very un-hospitable areas of the worlds oceans of the members of the CCA.

In the view of some the safety requirements for much of the Offshore Regs. are becoming more and more complex. I have over the past few years been told by at least two people I can think of that they are stopping doing offshore races due to the rigmarole and cost of the safety kit.

Regardless, the requirements for sails have generally remained pretty stable for several years. There are really only two principal changes to sails lately: Storm Jibs and Storm trysails manufactured after 1 Jan. 2014 are required to be ALL high visibility, usually orange, in color. So, the sail requirements for the Newport to Bermuda race are as follows.

There are three required sails and an assumed fourth one, the mainsail.

REQUIRED SAILS

The three required sails are: a Storm Jib, a Storm Trysail and what is called a Heavy Weather Jib. These are very specifically defined in the safety equipment section of Bermudarace.com. The mainsail has only one requirement and that is:

3.33.1 Reefing: A yacht shall have mainsail reefs capable of reducing the area of the sail by an amount appropriate for the weather conditions possible on the racecourse.

This phraseology is intended to push back to the owners and the master, the responsibilities for going to sea. This is in fact embedded in the Racing Rules of Sailing and RRS Rule 4 is here:

DECISION TO RACE

The responsibility for a boat’s decision to participate in a race or to continue racing is hers alone.

From a practical and seamanship perspective, contemplating sailing across this course on a boat with only one reef, would be a risk, way riskier than the reward of a few pounds less weight in the mainsail.

The Heavy Weather Jib (HWJ) is from a sailmaker’s perspective and design and engineering wise, are ‘merely” small, flat and heavily constructed jibs. But they must meet the rules for HWJs though which are-for the Newport to Bermuda Race:

3.33.3 Heavy Weather Jib:

A yacht shall carry a heavy weather jib (or heavy weather sail in a yacht with no forestay) of area not greater than 13.5% height of the fore-triangle squared.

In practice it turns out that on many, if not most boats an forestay sail, like the one seen on this Bristol 41-1 suffice as the Heavy Weather Jib but you should do the calculations or have your sailmaker do them, ideally with you.

Forestaysails commonly qualify as Heavy Weather Jib

Forestaysails commonly qualify as Heavy Weather Jib

A line item in the HWJ definition from World Sailing Offshore Regs is:

‘A heavy-weather jib (or heavy-weather sail in a boat with no forestay) with: area of 13.5% height of the foretriangle (IG) squared and a readily available means, independent of a luff groove, to attach to the stay.’

In practice this means grommets installed at suitable intervals in the luff of the sail immediately aft of the luff rope that enters into the headfoil on the boat.Thru these grommets may be passed lengths of line suitable for lashing the sail to the headstay in the event of damage to the foil.

The “alternative methods” of securing the sail to the stay has been edited out in the Bermuda race’s own rules. This now abandoned rule stems from the days of aluminum head foils being damaged by spinnaker poles bashing into them, rendering it impossible to get a sail up the foil. Today’s headfoils are made from plastic and spinnakers much less likely to be set on poles but at sea if something can fail, and this is everything, there must be a Plan B.

In the case of the HWJ, having your sailmaker install grommets up the luff so the sail can be secured to the foil (by short lengths of line premade for the purpose and stored in the emergency took kit, right?) is a very good idea. You can also leave the lines in the sail permanently because IF the foil fails AND you need to set this HWJ, having the lines already installed will be a lot easier than having a couple of crew sitting in the bow lacing the lines they the grommets for 30 minutes or so. And as a practical matter their presence will have zero impact on the performance of the sail for those thinking abut windage

Here is another Cooper TIP too. Backup grommets are something to think about for all headsails. Apart from the fact the head foil will not get un-busted when the breeze abates and having a way to set headsails is generally a good idea in an ocean race there is another utility made available by such grommets in the luff.

During the headsail changing process sails so equipped can have a length of light line woven back and forth, Dutchman like, through these grommets. The bottom end is made off with a figure eight knot so the line does not pass thru the grommets. All of this does a couple of things. It helps keep the luff of the sail forward in the flaking process. It offers a way to tie off the bulk of the forward end of the sail. This gives the crew at that end of the procedure a bit more freedom to wrestle the sail back into its turtle. If push comes to shove, a sail can be tied off to the boat at the forward end and it is perfectly possible for one man or woman to get a headsail into a turtle by themselves. Just ask anyone who did the sewer on a 12-meter, back in the day. Finally when changing back to this sail as the wind diminishes, the upper end of this line can be temporarily tied off until the sail is really ready to get hoisted. This makes it a bit harder for the (forward end of the) sail to go over the side.

STORM SAILS:

Sail offshore long enough (and or sail with no reefs in the mainsail) and you WILL meet conditions that will require all your seamanship skills, those of your crew AND small sails. The Newport to Bermuda Race requirements for the storm sails are:

3.33.2 Storm Trysail:

A yacht shall carry a storm trysail, with the yacht’s sail number displayed on both sides, that can be set independently of the main boom, has an area less than 17.5% of “E” x “P”, and which is capable of being attached to the mast. Storm sails manufactured after 1/1/2014 must be constructed from a highly visible material. Commonly this is an orange, yellow or pink material.

Trysail sheeted to boom

Trysail sheeted to boom

 

Rugg J 105 Storm Try tied around the boomA trysail sheeted to the boom: The traditional sheeting method for trysails is to lead the sheets to the quarter blocks in the stern. This causes chafe, where the sheet passes over the life lines, results in a poor shape when the sail is eased, leaves a lot of sail flapping around in tacks or gybes or needs more people to perform these manouvers. A very viable alternative is to set the trysail off the boom as seen above. In this case a reef lines is used. HOw ever the sail is set one must be on constant guard for chafe.

3.33.4 Storm Jib:

A yacht shall carry a storm jib not exceeding 5% of the yacht’s “I” dimension squared, and equipped with an alternative means of attachment to the headstay in the event of a failure of the head foil. Storm sails manufactured after 1/1/2014 must be constructed from a highly visible material.

Storm sails built after 2014 are required to be a high visibility color.

Storm sails built after 2014 are required to be a high visibility color.

The decision to set a trysail or not (and how to lower and stow it, don’t forget) is largely driven by the size and type of boat and by extension the skills of the owners and crew. The age, physical dexterity, strength, skill, sailing ability, seamanship and experience are all factors in sail handling in these conditions. And the last two are not always the same as sailing skill. One magazine article cannot address the many variables in methods for using and lowering a trysail let alone the variables on the course.

I would strongly recommend practicing as often as you can with all the crew and especially in crappy, windy weather doing all the evolutions and especially reefing and headsail changes.

Frankly the forgoing requirements for racing boats present very sound information for anyone bound offshore. AND yes, I get that people don’t want to carry Storm Sails around but they have uses outside of conditions over 50 knots.

Next up, what sails do I NEED for the Bermuda races

 

12 meters and 6.5 meters

Moving boats, always at night.

Maybe it’s just me but I seem to spend a disproportinate amount of time moving, going to or leaving with boats, at night. Wednesday night was a classic of the genre. I moved the Mini up to the Hinckley Yacht Services yard in Portsmouth preparatory to erecting the shed around her and the Ranger so I can continue The Quest to get the Mini sailing again. The night was drizzly wet, misty, dank and generally raw. It was the kind of night to sit by the fire with a good who-dunnit and a glass of Shiraz. The dankness and the weak yellow flood lamps reminded me of the first time I saw the rebuilt 12-meter Australia, in July 1979.

Mini nad Ranger at Hinckley Yacht Services

The fellow who had recruited me to be the boat captain, Lee Killingworth and I drove into the industrial area in which the refit had been done. The shed was your basic industrial put-it-up-in-a-day steel shed. It and a few clones were inside a 10-foot tall wire mesh fence in a neighborhood populated with similar homages to the rigors of small business manufacturing

Mini at Hinckley Yacht Services

July is mid-winter in Australia and Perth is on the water. The prevailing weather is from the west and southwest and so brings the harsh storms blowing up from the Southern Ocean bringing lots of moisture with them. And it is cold, raw moisture.

There was no sign on our shed. Warren Jones the Man Who Made It All Happen, in 1980 and particularly in 1983, had wanted to keep the boat invisible where possible. The dark/fog/mist/drizzle atmosphere was winning the battle of light versus dark against the yellowish lamps purportedly illuminating the parking lot.

IMG_2831

I opened the gate and we idled up to the side door of our building. I can remember that scene as though it was yesterday. Just the two of us, long disciples of the Aussie Battle to win the America’s Cup, the atmosphere was full of expectation. It felt like the beginning of something no one had ever done, beat the yanks in the America’s Cup.

Tonight, at Hinckley it was the same kind of wet, chill, dank, bleak night, something out of Dickens perhaps. I towed the Mini up the Burma Rd. to Hinckley and pulled in along side one of the huge sheds they have. These storage sheds are the larger brothers of the ones in Perth all those years ago. I wonder what it is with the lighting that goes with these sheds? It is always this pale anemic yellow. Weak enough that you feel if you looked at it too hard the light would just dribble away, mingling with the runnels of water covering the ground and and simply extinguish itself.

Again as in Perth, the whole scene reminded one of a 1930’s Raymond Chandler gangster novel. You know, something like…..

Mini at HYS

There were no headlights on the black shape as it inched closer. It looked like a Caddie, but with street lamps few and far between here, it was that kind of neighborhood, it was hard to be sure. Then again, at this time of the early morning who else was it gonna be? The President?

 In the dark it was hard to make out any particulars of the guy in the car. The one street lamp between him and the tenement was that sickly, anemic yellow color that the lamps down on the ship docks show. The car had stopped just outside the circle of yellow light drifting down from this lone lamp. The drizzle let up for a moment, but that really made no difference. The cloud cover was at about 3 feet anyway, so rain or not, everything was wet and the late fall air was chill. The entire scene was dank and depressing. At length he got out of the car.

He stood there, big and bulky, dense really, 250 lbs and 200 of it was not anywhere near his belt buckle. His hat was pulled down low over the eyebrows and the collar of his long black over coat turned up. The black of the coat matched the darkness of the street, as though they came from the same bin of blackness. So dressed, he was almost invisible outside that weak circle of yellow pinch-hitting for light. For fully a minute he stood quite motionless. He not so much looked around, but rather as if he was sniffing the air, taking in the mojo of the scene. If he were a cat, his whiskers would be twitching. At length who, or what ever, was at Twitch Control must have given him the all clear. He started walking, slowly with steady steps towards the decrepit and dim tenement.

There was no other human on the street but that was not a surprise. 2637 Broadview was the last, more or less inhabited, tenement on the block. It was so well known to the cops, they never did need the number. Just “Disturbance on Broadview”, said it all.

He stopped some feet from the door. Twitch, twitch. Slowly, very, very, slowly he unbuttoned his overcoat and pulled the lapels apart, just a smidge. He reached inside the overcoat and unbuttoned the three buttons on his suit coat. Very slowly, twitching all the while.

He raised his right hand up under his left armpit, and I don’t think he was reaching for his Lucky Strikes.

Mini in yellow light at HYS

It was that kind of night.

Mini at HYSSo here we go again. This time I have the Ranger AND the Mini going into the Vince’s Bush Boatyard Plastic Hoop Shed, albeit with 12 feet of extensions on it to accommodate the Ranger. Maybe after I get her done and sailing I will be able to move boat boats around in daylight, sunny, warm, you know, a normal kind of day for sailing…

Back in "The Day". On a moorinmg in Newport Harbour after the New ENgland Solo Twin, 2003

Back in “The Day”. On the mooring in Newport Harbour after the New England Solo Twin, 2003

 

Jules Verne Trophy, IDEC blasting across the Bay of Biscay

IDEC Sport

Sailing fast across the bay of Biscay, IDEC sport, Francis Joyon and his 5 shipmates are anticipating a fast, perhaps record, run to the Equator. This is their press release.

JOYON’S MEN START TO ACCELERATE

Thirteen hours after setting off during the night from Ushant, Francis Joyon and his crew of five on the big trimaran IDEC SPORT are approaching Cape Finisterre, the north-western tip of Spain. There has been a huge acceleration since this morning. They can hope for a record run to the Equator.

YELLOW BRICK TRACKER screen shot showin t the positin of GErman sailor Henrik Masekowitz in his Class 40 Croix du Sud. Henrik is bound around the globe also, although at somewhat slower speed.

YELLOW BRICK TRACKER screen shot showing the positin of German sailor Henrik Masekowitz in his Class 40 Croix du Sud. Henrik is bound around the globe also, although at somewhat slower speed. Depending on the track the two big tri’s take, well one hopes they know he is out there. Thirty knots is half a mile a minute…

The NW’ly wind has strengthened again in the Bay of Biscay and as they hoped this morning, IDEC SPORT has stepped up the pace since mid-morning. At 1300hrs UTC on Sunday 22nd November, eleven hours after they got underway (at 02:02:22 last night), the commando brigade on IDEC SPORT is already approaching Spain at the latitude of La Coruna. Anyone, who knows anything about sailing, will understand the extraordinary ability of these huge three-hulled boats to cross the Bay of Biscay in half a day. They can still look forward to reaching the Equator in under five and a half days, remembering that the record for this intermediate stretch is held by Loïck Peyron and his men with a time of 5 days and just under 15 hours.

Marcel Van Triest: “ideal in the North Atlantic”

The router Marcel Van Triest confirmed at 1500hrs this afternoon, “Even if the beam seas are stopping them from going too fast, we can’t grumble. We can sail across the Bay of Biscay on just one tack and only one gybe is likely before the Equator.” For him, there is the possibility of shaving 15 hours off the record for this first stretch, meaning they could move into the Southern Hemisphere in just five days. What happens after that? “Let’s say there is a 75% chance of getting a decent time to the Cape and a 35% chance of doing better than Banque Populaire (the record holder, editor’s note) which was very fast on this stretch between the Equator and the Cape of Good Hope.” On top of that, “tomorrow evening, the lads should be happy, as it will start to warm up, which will change things from what they have seen at the start of this attempt. Advancing at 30 miles per hour on the direct route, you soon make it to warmer climes. To be honest, the weather in the North Atlantic is looking very stable for them and almost perfect. 

(COOP-edit) GFS Wx map from Passage Weather dot com for 2100z Sunday 22 Nov. Looks to be fast and straightforward for the next 48 hours. Just remember, 48 hours at 25 knots is 1200 miles though…

GFS Wx map from Passage Weather dot com for 2100z Sunday 22 Nov. Looks to be fast and straightforward for the next 48 hours. 48 hours at 25 knots is 1200 miles though

Francis Joyon and his men could not be contacted today, which is completely understandable: in the rush that you can expect at the start of such a record attempt, which is as prestigious as this Jules Verne Trophy, the sailors have to find their footing and often have more important things to deal with than communications. Particularly when you set off and immediately hit nasty seas, even before you have got to the start line.

Averaging 30 knots

Apart from the heavy seas, everything is going smoothly for the men on IDEC SPORT, sailing slightly to the east of the direct route. After a cautious start, partly due to the light winds in the first three hours of the attempt when the seas were nevertheless high, when the priority was to ensure the safety of the boat, the crew on IDEC SPORT put their foot down, helped by a NW’ly air stream that is shifting to the NE and strengthening. That is why since 0800hrs this morning, the average speed has been around thirty knots or more, as opposed to 15-25 in the first few hours after crossing the line. Mathematically, the slight loss in comparison to the reference time has been significantly reduced going from around 40 miles this morning at 0800hrs to 15 miles seven hours later. Getting back on equal footing is a possibility tonight in the first part of this record, and any gap is in any case insignificant at this stage. Indeed, we can see that they have managed to sail 336 miles in the first thirteen hours of this attempt.

For the moment, IDEC SPORT has avoided all the hurdles in the Bay of Biscay. They have pulled this off bobbing around on cross seas. On board, everyone is settling in and the six sailors are fully concentrated on what they are doing: avoiding breakages / sailing quickly without taking too many unnecessary risks / sailing downwind to try to get a remarkable record time to the Equator / then continuing on their way like this in the South Atlantic. So far, it’s been going incredibly well.

In short

. IDEC SPORT set off at 02:02:22 UTC on Sunday 22nd November 2015.
. The time to beat
Loïck Peyron and his crew (Banque Populaire) with a time of 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.
. Deadline
To smash the Jules Verne Trophy record, IDEC SPORT has to be back across the line before 1544hrs on Wednesday 6thJanuary.
. The crew
The international crew on IDEC SPORT includes just six men: Francis Joyon (FRA), Bernard Stamm (SUI), Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA), Alex Pella (ESP), Clément Surtel (FRA) and Boris Herrmann (GER)

Solo sailing with 2 (more boats)

And yes I understand these are “fully crewed” boats but I am fascinated by the level of seamanship professionalism and prepareadness of these sailors. I will be doing more posts on this aspect of these adventures as we progress watching these men, and one woman on these voyages                                                             

Two other boats that is, albeit not solo but shanded none the less. The two Maxi Tri’s Spindrift 2 and IDEC are on green alert as of this morning, 1000z.

Both boats are loaded with the necessaries for the next 40 days or so at sea in a high-speed lap of the planet. The time to beat is 43 days and change and so they need to average over 20 knots. Both boats are in Brest close to the stating line off Ushant. As the following press release and interview reports it will be a windy start for the 105-foot tri and her 6-man (yes ladies in fact 6 guys) crew.

Remarkably this VPLP designed boat is pushing 10 years old having been launched as Groupama in 2006. Since then she has a checkered albeit fast career. As Groupama it took Franck Cammas and his crew three tries to set a record in the Jules Verne Trophy.

First a capsize of NZL, then a broken beam slowed them up, Third times a charm though

In last years Route du Rhumb sailing as Banque Populaire and in the very capable hand of Loic Peyron she won the Maxi class in this solo race. Yup, solo transatlantic in a 103 foot tri AND beating Yann Guichard on Spindrift which is 132 feet….

1400 z. CODE GREEN

JUST ANOUNCED IDEC WILL START TONIGHT

AND SPINDRIFT 2 RACIING WITHIN 24 HOURS

IDEC REPORTS: 

This time, it’s certain. IDEC SPORT will be tackling the Jules Verne Trophy from today, Saturday 21st November. Francis Joyon has just given the green light, meaning the start is imminent. The big red trimaran will be leaving the port of Brest this afternoon to cross the start line off Ushant this evening. A few hours before the start, which looks like being very rough, Francis Joyon explained the situation.

Francis, this time it’s a green light? Will IDEC SPORT be setting off around the world today?

“Yes! We just decided to set off, as we could see there was the possibility of taking advantage of an area of low pressure in the South Atlantic, so we’ll be setting off today with that in mind. We shall be setting off on a very windy day: 30 to 35 knots of wind in Brest, a lot more over Ushant. The conditions at the start aren’t going to be easy…”

No time to sit back and look at the situation, you’re diving straight in?


WX for  UShant and the Bay of Biscay for 1800 z on Saturday 21 11 15. Breeze on. Equator in 5.5 days, or less.

WX forecast from Passage Weather (dot com) for Ushant and the Bay of Biscay for 1800 z on Saturday 21 11 15. Breeze on. Equator in 5.5 days, or less.

“Yes, we’ll be setting off with one or two reefs. We are going to have to be cautious in the Bay of Biscay where the seas is very rough with a 4-5m swell forecast and the sea may remain cross, because we had a SW’ly gale the day before yesterday and now we are in a northerly air flow. We will immediately be into the heart of the action.”

The record to the Equator is possible, does that mean you are hoping for a good time to the Equator?

“Yes indeed. We hope to beat the reference time to the Equator and it could take us fewer then five and a half days, if everything fits into place.”

How do you feel with just a few hours to go?


“We’re giving the boat one final check-up. To ensure we haven’t forgotten anything and that all the supplies are in place, that everyone has put their passport in the safety locker, lots of little details like that. The crew is happy. They are all used to such starts and are happy when they are at sea…”

Can you tell us about the weather situation?

“The trip to the Equator looks relatively simple. The weather seems settled and we don’t have any questions, apart from what happens tonight with a small area of low pressure, which could cause the wind to drop off in the Bay of Biscay. We mustn’t get caught up in that. But more importantly, we are looking further ahead down to the position of the St Helena High, the pattern of low pressure areas leaving Brazil for the Cape of Good Hope. It’s a mixture of all that that led us to take the decision to set off today.”

Are the doubts you had over the past few days, in particular concerning the situation in the South Atlantic now behind you?


“50% of the doubts have gone, and it’s still a bit of a gamble. We can’t be certain of everything, but we are gambling on a very strong likelihood. In the past, some projects had to wait for months and months to find the right weather opportunity. We have said we have to grab this opportunity.

At what time will you be casting off on IDEC SPORT to head for the start line off Ushant?

“Mid or late afternoon…”

The crew of IDEC SPORT


Francis Joyon (FRA)- Bernard Stamm (SUI)- Gwénolé Gahinet (FRA)- Alex Pella (ESP)- Clément Surtel (FRA)- Borris Herrmann (GER)

The Jules Verne Trophy in short:

The crewed voyage around the world via the three capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin, Horn). 26,400 miles on the theoretical route. The time to beat (Loïck Peyron’s crew: 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds). Average speed required: 20 knots on the Great Circle Route.