Throughout the night, the crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has had to contend with shifty conditions to get the 32-metre giant making headway towards the gateway to the Indian Ocean. In short seas, where the boat accelerates and decelerates in every wave, piloting by night has not been the easiest of missions, especially in light of the fact that the dying breeze is still serving up a few suprise gusts to spice things up. As such, it was important to be on the sheets last night under the cuddy of the flying blue maxi-trimaran. Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier and their four crew had to hunt down a pivot point to the north before gybing on the stroke of 04:00 hours and then diving back down towards the south and the fortieth parallel. Despite conceding some ground to their virtual adversary over recent hours, at the 07:00 UTC position report, the men of Gitana Team still boast an 821-mile lead over the record holder, giving them a good cushion for rounding the first major cap of this round the world under sail.
A first reference time at Agulhas?
At the end of last week, the reference time to the equator slipped well out of reach after a very tough passage through the doldrums, which kept the latest Gitana in its clutches for over 24 hours. This Thursday, the Cammas-Caudrelier pairing and their crew could well secure a first reference time between Ushant and Cape Agulhas – a few miles further to the east of the Cape of Good Hope – even though the potential record would not be approved by the WSSRC (World Sailing Speed Record Council). Indeed, for now, in the battle to secure the Jules Verne Trophy, it’s the crew of Banque Populaire V, led by Loick Peyron, in 2012, who were the quickest over this section by covering the theoretical 6,160 miles in 11 d 23h 50 min. However, it’s a solo sailor, one François Gabart, during his Saint-Exupéry in 2017, who holds the outright record over this first section of the planetary circuit. Indeed, the skipper of Macif rounded the South African tip after 11 d 22 h 20 min. It’s worth recalling that the six sailors on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild crossed the start line of their Jules Verne Trophy attempt on 10 January at 01h33’46’’ UTC.
Currently 200 miles to the west of the longitude of Cape Agulhas, which stands at 20° east, powered up at over 35 knots at the last position report, Gitana 17 should make the switch into the Indian Ocean early this afternoon.