the gig is up

There is a cruel reality that sets in when you run out of runway and that’s exactly what happened this morning aboard Spindrift Racing, the 130-foot long (40-meter) trimaran in search of the Jules Verne record. The reality set in aboard IDEC Sport a few days ago when they knew that it would be impossible to close the gap between their position and the finish off Ushant on the west coast of France in the time that they had left to break the record, but aboard Spindrift 2 things were different. Until the last few days that still had a chance of breaking the record but the combination of a ridge of high pressure directly in their path and some stormy seas ahead the crew made the tough decision to stop sailing in record setting mode.

The gig is up. Banque Populaire V will retain the record of 45 days, 13 hours, 22 minutes, and 53 seconds set back in 2012.

The message on Spindrift’s Facebook page reads as follows; “We are 2,200 nautical miles from the finish line off Ushant and we are on our 43rd day at sea.” They would have to close that distance at an average speed of roughly 36 knots in order to break the record. Their Facebook post continued. “Although the crew have battled incessantly, closing the gap by more than 700 miles in the last three days, we still remain 170 miles off the pace.” The pace they are referring to is where Banque Populaire V was at the same time into their record setting circumnavigation. In addition to the almost 200 mile deficit it was the weather that did them in. A ridge of the Azores High has blocked their direct route with violent storms closer to the French coast forecast.
Between the two weather obstacles it will be all but impossible to get to the finish in record setting time. Spindrift skipper Yann Guichard released a short statement saying “We have not given up, but although the record is no longer attainable, the adventure continues. Our goal is, of course, to complete the circle of this voyage around the world and to cross the finish line off Ushant.”
Truthfully Banque Populaire V’s record pace was more ahead of Spindrift Racing than behind. There were a few occasions, especially in the early days where both Spindrift and IDEC Sport were well ahead of the record, but the Southern Ocean was not kind. More specifically the proximity of ice, which was further north than normal, forced both boats to sail a longer distance than Banque Populaire V. Despite the extra miles sailed, Spindrift 2 rounded Cape Horn with a sizable lead over the record holder but that lead faded quickly in the fickle winds off the South American coast.
And then you run out of runway. There is the finish line, an imaginary line that runs from the Créac’h lighthouse on Ile de Oessant (Ushant Island) to Lizard Point on the southwest corner of England. And there is the clock. End of story. It’s a tough ending but let’s not forget that the record is held by Loick Peyron, probably the most experienced sailor alive.
He and his crack crew had their own fair share of problems but they sailed an impeccable circumnavigation and so for now their record stands and it’s going to be a tough one to beat. – Brian Hancock.