Francis Joyon sets sail
French sailor Francis Joyon set off from Ambrose Light off the mouth of New York Harbour on his attempt to break the singlehanded west to east transatlantic at 09:15:50 UTC this morning.
To break the record Joyon and his maxi trimaran IDEC need to reach the Lizard within 5 days, 19 hours, 30 minutes and 40 seconds or Monday, 17 June at 04:45 UTC if he is to better the current record set in July 2008 by Thomas Coville aboard the Sodebo trimaran.
The final 24 hours in New York were very stressful for the sailor from Locmariaquer, as everything was a bit of a rush. He had to find a RIB to help him out of Gateway Marina, finish stowing supplies aboard, work on the final weather details… and once again, as we have come to expect, Francis Joyon in his usual style, took care of everything himself, while benefiting whenever possible from any kind offers of help from other seafarers on the pontoons.
Once out of the bay off New York, IDEC was free to fly in the open waters of the Atlantic. The southwesterly wind was blowing as forecast off Ambrose Light, and despite a heavy swell, Joyon was able to speed off from the outset at record pace making speeds in excess of 23 knots.
"The swell was hitting us as we left Ambrose Light," Joyon explained at lunchtime today. He was happy to be alone again at sea and relieved to have made it out of the Hudson River and away from the shoreline without hitch, despite of a few anxious moments.
His final hours in the Big Apple were rather rushed. "I didn’t have time to take care of all the supplies. I asked a guy on the pontoon to help me. He was Russian; he gave me some food from home. So it looks like it’s going to be Russian food this week…"
It was during the night that Francis got his boat away alone and removed the propeller, and then headed for the location, where the famous Ambrose Light used to be located.
One last look around, the autopilot was switched on and the genoa trimmed… and Francis Joyon told the official from the World Speed Sailing Record Council, who was in New York, to start the clock for the big red trimaran. At 09:15:20 UTC, IDEC was off on her latest battle with the Atlantic.
"The weather window isn’t brilliant, but we will have to make do with that…" Joyon has once again been collaborating with expert weather router Jean-Yves Bernot. "I know that I should be getting some good conditions for the first two-thirds of the course, and according to the latest weather models there is some doubt about the finish, if we follow the route taken by the low-pressure area. The route won’t exactly be the Great Circle route, as I shall be sailing a little further south. But on the other hand that means I shall be avoiding the worst of the fog around the Great Banks…"
Fog, which has already engulfed IDEC in her first few miles of racing, was forcing Joyon to keep a close eye on the radar and over the bow of the boat. "I have just sailed between two whales.That was nice. They left me enough room to get through without having to manoeuvre…"
A 30 knot southwesterly wind is forecast ahead of the maxi-trimaran IDEC, with seas that are going to become increasingly tricky; Francis Joyon is facing a mammoth task and that is without taking into account the lack of sleep after a tiring voyage and a more or less sleepless night in New York. “It’s when I’m at sea that I get my rest...”