Showing the weather for 2130 tonight
Showing the weather for 2130 tonight

Spindrift 2 throws in the towel

Still more than 3000 miles to sail in three and a bit days for the world's biggest maxi-tri

Sunday January 3rd 2016, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Still situated 2,600 miles from the finish line off Ushant as they start their 43rd day at sea, Spindrift 2 may now only be 266 miles off Banque Populaire V's pace, but will no longer be able to improve on the Jules Verne Trophy record time of 45d 13h 42m 53s, set in 2012.

Although the crew have battled incessantly, closing the gap by more than 700 miles in the last three days, the weather has sealed their fate. While the Azores high has blocked the direct route to Ushant, violent storms lie ahead, with seas in which the crew will be unable to push hard, making it impossible for them to finish the circumnavigation in record time. From today, Spindrift 2's crew are taking their foot off the gas to look after the boat.

To beat the record, the world's largest maxi-trimaran would currently need to average 26 knots all the way to the finish line, but the weather is not complying. Until yesterday (Saturday), there was still a very slim chance of crossing the finish line by the Créac'h lighthouse on Ushant inside the record time, albeit with only a few minutes to spare. However the forecast has changed - while the Azores high continues to block the direct route to the finish line, forcing Spindrift 2 to make a huge detour to the northwest, over today a secondary area of high pressure is developing to the northwest of the Azores high further effectively blocking Spindrift 2's path. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, the next 24 hours are going to be light for her before the strong following winds fill in tomorrow lunchtime to the northwest of the Azores high - light winds and slow speeds at a time when she needs to be a rocketship.

(Image above courtesy of Expedition and PredictWind)

And while the finish may be 2560 miles away as the crow flies, Spindrift 2 is still going to have a sail 3000-3500 miles to get there, or roughly 1000 miles a day. This is a great shame as conditions appear to be extreme fast from tomorrow lunchtime all the way to the finish.

Yann Guichard, skipper of Spindrift 2 commented: "The Azores High is continuing to grow, and we'll have to travel another 1,000 miles northwest to sail around it and pick up the depressions. It seems hard to understand, because we are only 170 miles behind the current record holder (on Saturday night), but at the cut-off time we'll still be 1,000 miles away from the finish line due to the big detour. We were hoping a window would open so we could take a faster route to Ushant than that taken by the current record holder, but the window didn't appear, so we just had to face up to reality.

"We'll have to be very careful sailing back in to Brittany, as we're expecting strong winds and heavy seas. All this means we're no longer in record-attempt mode, as we can no longer claim the Jules Verne Trophy. Our aim now is to cross the finish line safely in Ushant and then return to the home port in La Trinité-sur-Mer.

"Obviously it's disappointing for me and the crew, but we've given our all since the start. We sailed a good race, there was a great atmosphere on board and we can be proud of our performance. We were 500 miles up at Cape Horn, but the weather gods decided not to help us all the way to the finish. Everyone has supported us from start to finish, and this is just a postponement before we make another attempt to beat the Jules Verne Trophy record."

Dona Bertarelli, helmsman-trimmer added: "Obviously it's disappointing to come so close without being able to finish off the job. It has been and will remain a wonderful adventure. Long before our departure we knew the situation, and we knew the weather would be the arbiter. You just have to accept how things turn out. The aim now is to complete the circumnavigation and see all the people who have been encouraging us throughout this Jules Verne Trophy."

Key stats:

Start, Ushant: Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 04:02 UTC

Crossing the Equator: Friday, November 27 at 01:31 UTC

Time for Ushant - Equator: 4 days 21 hours 29 minutes
Delta with Banque Populaire V: ahead by 17 hours 25 minutes

Crossing the longitude of Cape Agulhas: Friday, December 4 at 04:04 UTC
Ushant - Cape Agulhas: 12 days 00 hours 02 minutes
Delta with Banque Populaire V: behind by 12 minutes 

Crossing the longitude of South East Cape, the southernmost tip of Tasmania: Saturday, December 12 at 08:39 UTC
Ushant - Tasmania: 20 days 4 hours 37 minutes
Cape Agulhas - Tasmania (Indian Ocean): 8 days 04 hours 35 minutes
Delta with Banque Populaire V: ahead by 2 hours 34 minutes

Rounding Cape Horn: Tuesday, December 22 at 08:09 UTC
Ushant – Cape Horn: 30 days 4 hours 07 minutes
Delta with Banque Populaire V: ahead by 18 hours 11 minutes

Crossing the Equator: Thursday, December 31 UTC at 17:33 UTC
Ushant - Equator: 39 days 13 hours 31 minutes
Delta with Banque Populaire V: behind by 1 day 10 hours 46 minutes

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