Coville throws in the towel
Given the weather forecast and the routings and the prospect of ice around 300 miles from Antarctica, Thomas Coville, in agreement with his sponsor Sodebo has opted to abandon this attempt on Francis Joyon's solo round the world record. The French skipper will now turn the bows of his maxi-trimaran back to her homeport of La Trinité-sur-Mer.
While he managed to reach the Equator in just 6 days 20 hours, the weather in the South Atlantic since just hasn't been conducive to setting records. Since Monday a giant area of high pressure has blocked Sodebo's path south with little hope of escape. As a result Sodebo dropped more than 1000 miles behind the virtual pace of Francis Joyon's IDEC 2, the present record holder.
"It was our last chance, we got down to the equator but I knew that the key would be the St Helena," explained Coville.
This afternoon Sodebo was making 15 knots upwind, with 2,000 miles to go before passing the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope however another area of high pressure was forecast to block her way, requiring a substantial detour that would take Sodebo south to around 60°S, around 300 miles from Antarctica, where there is of course the threat of encountering ice.
Given this routing indicates that by the Cape of Good Hope, Sodebo could be as much as 1,600 miles behind Joyon's pace or about three day's sailing.
"I have a great boat, I feel perfectly in tune with her," commented Coville. "Today, the files confirm that, even looking ahead to the south Indian Ocean, we would be slower than Francis (Joyon).
"Apart from the delay at the Good Hope and what we could do in the Indian Ocean, it would have required me to push beyond the safety limits we set for ourselves. The routing was going to need me to slalom between ice south of the Kerguelen with the risk of putting myself in danger but also involving other people if something went wrong.
"I have to balance performance, with professionalism and safety. I represent a company -0 Sodebo. I have to be honest and accountable to those who trust me. The hardest part is making this decision. As a competitor, tonight I'm naturally disappointed."