Jules Verne Trophy: Swiss vs. French–the challenge has begun


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collageIn the early hours of Sunday morning, the grand challenge of the Jules Verne Trophy, which is awarded to the person who can, as a crew, complete the circumnavigation of the globe (via Cape of Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn) in the shortest possible time. At 3:02 a.m., Francis Joyon’s maxi trimaran IDEC Sport departed, and at 4:08’51”, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard’s 40-meter maxi trimaran Spindrift 2 departed. They crossed the imaginary starting line that runs between Créac’h Lighthouse (Ouessant Island, France) and Lizard Point (UK): by far, the fastest so far is Loïck Peyron, who with Banque Populaire V in 2012 crewed around the world in just 45 days, 13 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds.

Francis Joyon holds the solo round-the-world record, but now he is also in the hunt for the Jules Verne: his hand-picked crew aboard Idec Sport dropped their moorings as soon as meteorologists found the right “window”: they could have set off on Saturday but preferred to postpone, because according to their calculations there was a risk of running into equatorial calm. Compared to the Swiss team of Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard, consisting as we shall see of as many as 14 members, Joyon’s team is closer to the concept of a chosen “commando.”

Few, but very select: Bernard Stamm (who has already won the Jules Verne aboard Bruno Peyron’s Orange II in 2005), Gwénolé Gahinet (won the Mini Transat and is the son of the late Gilles, Tabarly’s black beast and winner of two Solitaire du Figarò), Alex Pella (The Race, second in the Mini, first among the Class 40s at Route du Rhum), Clement Surtel (Franck-Yves Escoffier’s grandson, sailed on IDEC Sport when it belonged to Franck Cammas and was called Groupama and on Orange), Boris Herrmann (two round-the-world races, three times past Cape Horn, winner in 2009 of the GOR), Roland Jourdain (as a substitute: think he’s a real hero of the Vendée, Figaro and Route du Rhum, won everywhere) and, as ground support, Marcel Van Triest (five world laps behind him).

This, on the other hand, is the Swiss crew of Spindrift: Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, Thomas Rouxel, Sébastien Audigane, Antoine Carraz, Sébastien Marsset, Xavier Revil, François Morvan, Yann Riou, Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard, Jacques Guichard, Christophe Espagnon, Erwan Israël and Loïc Le Mignon.

Peyron’s time, to be beaten (they have already tried: the last was Thomas Coville who, however, had to retire almost immediately with his Sodebo), needs a hyper-technological bolide worthy of James Bond. So here is the new 42-meter carbon mast (25 percent lighter than its predecessor), a new set of sails, deck gear stripped down to the bone, and a borderline manic filing of weights below deck (for example, all sail bags were changed coming in at a savings of 35 kg). It will be a good challenge.



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