It has been a busy day in the Bay of Biscay today. The leading yacht in the Brest Atlantique, Maxi Edmund De Rothschild, just crossed the finish line to complete a very fast triangulation of the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, a little further to the north, another giant trimaran is about to set out on an attempt to break the record for the fastest fully crewed circumnavigation. Spindrift 2, skippered by Yann Guichard along with his 11-man crew are aiming to win the Jules Verne Trophy by lapping the planet in less than 40 days and 23 hours, the current record which was set in 2017 by Francis Joyon and his crew aboard IDEC Sport.
Maxi Edmund De Rothschild, with co-skippers Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have crushed their opposition and are currently almost 1,800 miles ahead of the two remaining boats with Thomas Coville on Sodebo retiring after sustaining rudder damage after hitting what they think might have been a submerged container. It has been 28 days since the race started and the lead boat has covered over 14,000 nautical miles, that’s about, if my math is correct, around an average of 500 miles a day. Not bad for a double-handed team.
Spindrift 2 will have their work cut out for them if they are going to break the record. It’s all about the first two weeks. Their weather team works hard to find the perfect weather window that will slingshot them down the North Atlantic and across the equator. If they enter the South Atlantic either ahead of the record reference time or close behind they will continue. If not they may bail and try again at some other date. There is no use chasing a phantom ship around the world if you are not in a position to beat their time.
I personally think that this kind of record setting and racing is quite incredible. How one or two or even a full crew can manage those huge beasts and survive the never ending stress of sailing at full speed 24/7 is beyond my scope of imagination. When you are sailing at 35 knots and you get hit by the spray off the bow, it must feel like you are getting hit by a fire hydrant at some college campus sit-in, not that I would know anything about that…:) – Brian Hancock.