Next stop the Doldrums

500+ mile days but Thomas Coville on the back foot in his solo round the world record attempt

Wednesday January 22nd 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Thomas Coville and his giant trimaran Sobedo set off on their bid to break Francis Joyon's five year old singlehanded non-stop round the world record aboard IDEC 2 on Friday at 06:42:44.

Five days in Sodebo is 149 miles astern of IDEC 2's pace, largely due to Coville being forced to leave in a weather window that was good but not ideal. While he got to within 25 miles of IDEC 2's relative position 24 hours into his voyage, he has remained on the backfoot more or less ever since, not helped by having to put in a pair of costly gybes while sailing between Madeira and the Canary Islands on Monday morning.

Sodebo 2 passed to the west of the Cape Verdes in the early hours of this morning and is currently 155 miles off Joyon's pace.

The next hurdle of her round the world voyage will be the Doldrums. Her trajectory south at present is well to the west of IDEC 2's meaning that she's effectively sailing more miles. Assuming Coville maintains his current course, Sodebo looks set to cross the Doldrums to the west of 30°W, whereas IDEC 2 crossed them at around 26°W. The satellite wind radar images currently show the Doldrums to be quite south, at around 0-2°N, with the southeasterlies only properly filling in at around 1°S.

While he is behind, his progress is far from shabby. Over the course of this morning, Sodebo's 15 minute average speeds have ranged from 20-28 knots and at 0715 this morning, she had covered 561 miles in the previous 24 hours, as she crosses the northeasterly trades on port gybe.

From chilly northern Europe, the water temperature is already up to 21°C and down below on Sodebo it is 25...

"If there was ever a time that Thomas should thoroughly enjoy this, it is now," said Thierry Briend, one of Sodebo's routers, yesterday. "She's making 20 knots and more than 25 knots at times. In fact last night there were peak speeds of 35 knots. Sailing in shorts and T-shirt, Thomas has a beautiful alternative to skiing!"

As to Sodebo's progress, Briend points out that: "Francis (Joyon) did not have to gybe or tack between Madeira Island and Crozet (in the southern Indian Ocean island and he managed to bisect the St Helena high in the South Atlantic. The first half of his journey round the world journey was exceptional, it is difficult to take time out of him on this part."

To avoid the wind shadow of the Cape Verdes, that can extend nearly 100 miles to their lee, Sodebo has passed well offshore. He is due into the Doldrums tonight and into Thursday.

"For the moment, the Doldrums is quite south, between 2 and 5°N. It is not hyper active, just stuck in middle of our way," concludes Briend.

Image above courtesy of Expedition and PredictWind.

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