Final hitch north

Joyon attempts to stay in stronger breeze on final run into the line

Sunday January 20th 2008, Author: James Boyd, Location: France
At 1804GMT Francis Joyon still had 112 miles left to run. Taking the advice of his router, Jean-Yves Bernot, between 1300 and 1500 Joyon put in a hitch to the north in order to stay in the stronger winds further away from the high pressure over western Europe. Despite this, since 1500 IDEC2's speed has dropped from 20 to around 16 knots and at this pace his ETA at the finish line off Brest will be around 0100GMT or 0200 local time.

"Jean-Yves wanted me to do it before the Azores, and I've finally agreed!" commented Joyon as he was heading NNW before making his final gybe for the line. "The wind got up to 30 knots during the night, and was fairly steady. I gybed at lunchtime while it is still daylight with some visibility and I'm not in the shipping lanes. The gybe went well, apart from the fact that now the boat is hitting the swell on the beam, but that's okay. In a couple of hours, I'll gybe back again and then can head directly towards Brest."

As he approaches mainland France, Joyon will have to be on alert for ships crossing the Bay of Biscay, while also attempting to ensure the wheels stay on his trimaran. "The mainsail halyard is worrying me less and less as time goes by, as even if it breaks now, it won't be dramatic, as I can always finish under headsail alone. It will only slow me down by a couple of hours."

Relaxing ever so slightly Joyon has allowed himself some rest and is preparing himself psychologically for returning to shore, every day life and the extreme culture shock of coming face to face with crowds of well wishers, media, family and friends after almost 58 days of solitude. "I grabbed some sleep during the night to get ready for a sleepless night for the finish. The lack of sleep increases the tension I feel; I can see clearly I get stressed for very little, any odd little things. My ankle? That's just one of the wounds and bumps I have suffered, but it's all in order. In general I'm feeling quite well. If I had to go back the other way, I think I could manage it!"

The start/finish line for Joyon's record is not the normal Ushant-Lizard line, but just off the narrow channel leading into the Rade de Brest at the Petit Minou Light.

While Joyon is due to finish in the early hours, he has asked to be alone for the final hours of the night to get some rest on board his faithful IDEC, before mooring up alongside Recouvrance Quay in Brest at around nine in the morning (local time).

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