Record out of reach

Sodebo still has her bows pointed northwest and a ridge to cross

Wednesday March 23rd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Image above courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems and PredictWind.

Date Lat Long Spd Crs Spd Spd Dist DTF v IDEC
      Inst   4hrs 24 hours      
23/03/2011 08:45 18°48.61'N 045°25.88'W 16.8 336° 19.1 15.3 367.5 2 637 -708.8
23/03/2011 06:00 18°03.37'N 045°04.46'W 19.6 335° 20.2 14.8 355.7 2 661 -698.5
23/03/2011 04:00 17°28.79'N 044°42.81'W 20.8 327° 19.9 14.4 344.8 2 676 -687.3
23/03/2011 02:00 16°55.87'N 044°21.14'W 18.7 328° 17.9 14.6 350.2 2 690 -670.2
23/03/2011 00:00 16°20.93'N 043°57.03'W 20.1 325° 13.2 14.7 352.6 2 704 -657
22/03/2011 22:00 15°48.71'N 043°34.42'W 18 322° 9.6 14.9 356.8 2 718 -649.6
22/03/2011 20:00 15°28.84'N 043°15.17'W 6.3 336° 9 15.6 373.6 2 723 -639.8
22/03/2011 17:45 15°13.18'N 043°08.67'W 7.2 340° 11.8 16.8 403 2 732 -623.8
22/03/2011 16:00 14°59.06'N 043°04.32'W 10.7 343° 14.5 17.6 423.4 2 742 -606.1
22/03/2011 14:00 14°36.44'N 043°00.39'W 11.4 15.8 18.4 441.3 2 758 -595.6
22/03/2011 12:00 14°07.01'N 042°59.38'W 16.9 347° 15.6 19.1 458.4 2 782 -591.5
22/03/2011 10:00 13°33.12'N 042°52.12'W 16.7 351° 14.8 19.6 469.5 2 806 -588.3
22/03/2011 08:00 13°02.40'N 042°47.72'W 13.1 353° 16.9 20.3 487.2 2 829 -586
22/03/2011 06:00 12°34.81'N 042°43.07'W 14.6 344° 19.3 21 504.3 2 868 -596.7
22/03/2011 04:00 12°05.08'N 042°40.03'W 19.8 352° 21.2 21.7 521 2 888 -587.3
22/03/2011 02:00 11°21.97'N 042°32.15'W 22.7 348° 20.9 21.7 521.7 2 916 -591.4
22/03/2011 00:00 10°41.18'N 042°20.12'W 19.4 342° 21.1 22.3 534.9 2 941 -591.2
21/03/2011 22:00 10°02.32'N 042°06.81'W 20.9 338° 21.6 22.2 532.1 2 964 -588.7
21/03/2011 20:00 09°25.84'N 041°44.70'W 19.6 324° 21.8 21.9 525.8 2 981 -579.8
21/03/2011 18:00 08°50.33'N 041°18.48'W 22.9 322° 22.4 21.6 517.2 2 997 -573.8
21/03/2011 16:00 08°16.06'N 040°51.76'W 20.4 321° 23 21 503.4 3 012 -574.8
21/03/2011 14:00 07°42.85'N 040°23.36'W 24.1 318° 23.8 20.1 483.2 3 027 -558.9
21/03/2011 12:00 07°07.22'N 039°51.91'W 23.1 319° 23.3 19.2 459.6 3 044 -544.1
21/03/2011 10:00 06°32.44'N 039°20.21'W 24.2 319° 22.8 18.6 446.2 3 062 -529.2
21/03/2011 09:00 06°14.21'N 039°03.64'W 25.2 316° 22.6 18.2 437.6 3 072 -523.2

Sadly the opportunity to break Francis Joyon's record now seems out of reach for poor old Thomas Coville. At the latest shed he has 2637 miles left to go to the finish and has 112 hours remaining to better IDEC's time. This requires an unachievable average speed in excess of 23.54 knots directly at the mark.

While there seemed to be a chance of breaking the non-stop solo round the world record, when Sodebo drew level with IDEC's pace approaching the equator, weather conditions in the North Atlantic have scuppered Coville's chances. Even today the bows of Coville's 105ft red trimaran remain pointed towards Nova Scotia rather than northwest France.

Since crossing the equator last Sunday, Coville has been focusing on speed rather than heading. Generally Sodebo's speed has been good as she reaches across the Trades. The first task is to get around the giant ridge that is pretty much spanning the Atlantic from the Canaries to the northern Caribbean. Sodebo will spend the next 24-36 hours passing through this before the wind veers southeast at around 25°N and then, finally, Sodebo will be able to swing her bows starboard more or less towards the mark. This will coincide with a depression (not the one currently located off the eastern seaboard of the USA, but the one queued up astern of it) emerging into the Atlantic providing the building southwesterlies to get Coville home.

"When you look at the cartography you must be wondering where on earth I’m going!” says Coville. "To the West Indies? To New York? No, I fully intend to return to Brest but the weather has decided not to let me take the most direct route.

“After Cape Horn, when we thought that the hardest part was behind us, but the South Atlantic was superb, but it was entirely upwind, going into heavy and very difficult seas. The boat and I were really put to the test but we got a sense of pride when we managed to get ahead of Francis Joyon, following our deficit in the other three oceans. For a moment I believed that I’d have a classic weather scenario to ascend the Brazilian coast and enter the northern hemisphere, but it was nothing of the sort. After having endured a very difficult and stormy depression to the north of Brazil, which killed the southeasterly tradewinds, we remained in light, unusual conditions. Right now, it’s an enormous zone of high pressure which is preventing us from hooking in the westerly and southwesterly winds, the same system that is supposed to carry us back towards Europe. That means that I’ll have to make a massive detour to the west."

In the meantime, with a light day ahead of him, Coville's deficit on Joyon is up to more than 700 miles, with further pain to come. He will claw some miles back once he gets into the westerlies but we can expect him to reach Brest at least a day late to break the record. This is his second full lap he would have completed and the second time he has failed to better Joyon's time. One can only imagine how he's feeling.

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