Goal failed for maxi trimarans Spindrift and Idec Sport: Swiss (Dona Brtarelli and Yann Guichard and French (Francis Joyon) will fail to break the record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe set in 2012 by Loick Peyron aboard Banque Populaire V.
THE YIELD OF SPINDRIFT
With 2,600 miles to go from the finish line located off the island of Ouessant and at the beginning of the 43rd day of sailing, Spindrift 2, while lagging only 266 miles behind Banque Populaire’s record, will no longer be able to better the Jules Verne Trophy record set in 2012 with a time of 45g 53s 42m 13s. The team pushed hard on the accelerator committing beyond all limits, closing a gap of more than 700 miles in three days from the current holder, but the weather has decided what the fate of this challenge will be. The Azores anticyclone, in fact, prevents sailing on the direct route, while more in the finish area, violent storms are expected that will make it virtually impossible to navigate safely. Therefore, the conditions in the Atlantic make it, in fact, impossible to continue the record-breaking attempt. As of today, the Spindrift 2 crew is forced to officially give up its goal of winning the Jules Verne Trophy.
To break the record, the crew of the large trimaran would have had to maintain an average speed of 26 knots until the end of the challenge, but the weather would not allow it. Until Saturday, Jan. 2, there was still a chance for Spindrift 2 to cross the finish line between Créac’h Lighthouse and Ushant Island in time to break the record. Unfortunately, late yesterday afternoon the weather situation changed and the new scenario wiped out any chance of crossing the finish line by 17:43 UTC on January 6. The Azores anticyclone has settled firmly on the direct route to the finish line and is forcing, precisely because of the light wind it generates, Spindrift 2 and its crew to follow a much longer route northwest to the island of Newfoundland, a route even longer than the one taken by the record holder in his time. It will therefore be impossible for Yann Guichard, Dona Bertarelli and their crew to “cut the corner” and head straight for the Azores. Meanwhile, Brittany and British coasts have not been spared from the bad weather, and the situation does not seem to be improving in the short term, indeed: a further very violent low pressure is expected on Sunday night between southern Ireland and Cape Finisterre resulting in further bad weather conditions expected on Tuesday, January 5.
So the next few days will not be the “best” days for sailing between Labrador and the Bay of Biscay, especially since the sea state, already rough off the island of Ouessant, will be destined to worsen further and perhaps even become dangerous even for a 40-meter trimaran. Yesterday Saturday, weather conditions were recorded with 35 knots of wind (72 km/h) and 60 knot gusts (139 km/h) that literally swept the Iroise Sea, helping to form waves more than 8 meters high.
Given the conditions, Spindrift 2 skipper Yann Guichard decided to prioritize safety to avoid putting his men and his boat in danger. Caution will prevail over all other considerations.
Yann Guichard, skipper of Spindrift 2: “The Azores anticyclone continues to grow, and we will have to travel another 1,000 miles (1,852 km) in a northwesterly direction to get around the anticyclone itself and be able to find some wind. It seems hard to understand because we are only 170 miles from the current record holder, but even the moment we cancel out all the disadvantage, we would still be 1,000 miles away from the finish line precisely because of this great northward course deviation we are forced to take. Our hope was related to the opening of a different weather window, which would allow us to sail directly to the finish line with a shorter and faster course than that of the current record holder, but this did not occur and so we had to face reality. We will have to be very careful sailing toward Brittany, where we will find strong winds and heavy seas. Our goal now is to cross the finish line safely without thinking about the record anymore and then return to La Trinité-sur-Mer, where Spindrift 2’s nautical base is located. Of course this is all a bit disappointing for me and the team, but we are aware that we gave our best from the beginning. We made a good record attempt, there was always a great atmosphere on board, and we can be proud of our performance. We had a 500-mile lead all the way to Cape Horn, but the weather gods decided not to be on our side until the finish line. This is just a reprieve before we prepare another challenge to break the Jules Verne Trophy record.”
Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer: “Of course, it is disappointing to get so close to the goal without being able to accomplish the goal. This has been and will remain a wonderful adventure. Even long before we started it, we knew that the weather would be the only arbiter. One has to accept things for what they are. Our goal now is to complete the circumnavigation to see again all the people who supported and sustained us in this challenge at the Jules Verne Trophy.”