French skipper Thomas COVILLE onboard the maxi-trimaran Sodeb'O has begun his latest attempt on the singlehanded round the world record.
Sodeb'O crossed the starting line at 13:54:14 UTC on Tuesday 18 November. There was 15 to 17 knots of N/NW'ly wind and the boat was making headway under one reef mainsail and staysail. To beat Francis JOYON's (FRA) record, Thomas COVILLE (FRA) will have to pass the Petit Minou lighthouse at the entrance to Brest harbour by 15 January 2009 at 03:27:20 UTC at the latest.
"It's a moment for which we've all been waiting for several weeks. The freedom in the choice of departure time is an important and decisive decision for the next stage. We decided to set out today because this morning the situation between the Canaries and the Cape Verde islands has become clearer, without being completely transparent!"
explained the skipper of Sodeb'O late on Tuesday morning. "The routing we did at 09:00 hours this morning with the grib files fulfilled the 'theoretical' objective of making the equator in seven days."
COVILLE continued, explaining that "after observing the situation over the past few days, it looks really good now with a fairly easy sea state at the start in a 20-25 knot NW'ly, which will be followed by a N/NE'ly wind rotation, providing the multihull with a better angle on the wind".
In other words a fine downwind descent pushed by the breeze is in view, "conditions in which the boat shouldn't suffer too much and where I can make good speed without being overly physical."
The skipper concluded his last radio session on shore with a few more personal thoughts: "I admit that I love this moment when inertia turns to action; it's a moment we all prepare for. I certainly feel a twinge of sorrow at leaving land. I am a landlubber like you all but I'm heading into a hostile ocean".
The Record To Beat
Record: Round the World, non stop, singlehanded
Yacht: IDEC, 90ft trimaran
Skipper: Francis JOYON (FRA)
Dates: January 2008
Elapsed time: 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds
Distance: 21,769 nautical miles
Average Speed: 15.84 knots