Banque Populaire V

Banque Populaire V

Monday, 31 January 2011

Day 8.75

0730 31 Jan  Pos 24S 38W

Leaving the tropics now after 5 days in the heat, its just getting a little cooler in the cabin. It was pretty steamy in the forward cabin with 12 people taking turns sleeping in the 4 bunks, and no fans, just a little ventilation from the daggerboard compartment just forward..

Yesterday afternoon, Florent went up in the outside of the mast for a check, whilst Kevin went up the inside of the mast to see any possible problems on the inside. The mast tube is enormous, easily room for a big lad like Kevin. Nothing amiss on the mast, and the next mast check might not be till after Cape Horn in flatter waters again.

 Past Rio now and still heading South in order to meet a low pressure system that is forecast to take us all the way across the South Atlantic and on past the Cape of Good Hope. We are awaiting this expres train to pull into the station, we have bought our tickets and are ready to depart, hopefully in the next 24 hours, but there may be leaves on the track or the wrong kind of snow…

Surprising how few birds have seen so far, not one bird from the start till just before the doldrums when we saw a couple of tiny black petrels. Looking forward to seeing the soaring Albatrosses in a few days.

On watch again now in 3 minutes..better press the envoyer/recevoir button

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Off the coast of Brazil on day 7.75!

0600 30 Jan  Pos 17S 36 30W

Hi there

Another hot night here off the coast of Brasil. Sailing downwind with the full main and biggest gennaker. There are a few rain clouds around, but nothing like last night at this same time of day, when we were stopped for hours in heavy rain. So we are making relatively steady progress, at around 15 to 23 knots, depending on the wind speed.

As you might have seen though, our progression towards Cape Town is hardly spectacular, and unfortunately we have more time of going slowly and not in the right direction, before we get a low pressure to send us eastwards. So do not expect us to break any records from the equator to Cape of Good Hope. The dream scenario is to be able to sail directly from here as Orange2 and Idec did, when they set their respective fully crewed and solo RTW records. But that happens rarely and the rest of the time, we have to take the long way around the St Helena High, and now we are even going the longer way than most. Such is sailing, and we are just racing as fast as we can to do those extra miles quickly.

Right now, the moon and Venus are rising in the East, its too hot for a Tshirt in the middle of the night, I have just had a bowl of porridge, and I am on watch in 100 minutes. Later today the sun will be directly overhead, as our latitude will be the same as the declination of the sun - so it will be a very hot one!

What is it like on board? To describe it to a non sailor it would be like a mix between driving in a F1 Qualifier each day, together with a 2 hour gym session daily, whilst touring the worlds most remote islands and undertaking a French immersion course all at the same time. Its certainly a special experience and I have been very lucky to be part of the team. Right now off to change to the genoa to sail round another rain cloud, then it will be on watch, so that’s all for now folks, a demain..

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Latest from Brian!

1730  29 Jan, Day 7.25 13S 34W
Its been a bit frustrating not being to get online but is working again!

Just going to do a quick update, as there is a queue!

So we are now having fabulous sailing down the coast of Brasil, except for a slow and very intensive period escaping from a squall system last night. The wind is 15 to 18 knots from the East with a wind angle of 105 to 110, we have full main and genoa (known as the solent on board) and are just on the edge of flying the main hull most of the time.

Apart from in those squalls last night, the main trimming is changing from the curved foil in the leeward hull in the regular breeze to the main daggerboard in the central hull in the lighter patches when boatspeed is less than 20 knots. Otherwise its intense driving; keeping the boat just in the groove, and trimming the traveller to keep the main hull just kissing the water.

These are the days to enjoy and remember for the long period in the south to come. The stars at night are absolutely incredible; I thought it was good near the Canaries, but even clearer now with new things appearing in the south as we head south at 10 degrees of latitude a day. Last night it was the Clouds of Magellan, other galaxies we that we can see from our planet. Thierry Chabignet was joking that maybe out there is another boat trying to sail around its planet..

Otherwise, people are having washes and shaving in these calmer conditions, Jeremie and Manu have gone left what they call Magnum PI by leaving a moustache. Some thought it was more Mariachi band…


Friday, 28 January 2011

Reaching the Equator...

0730 28 Jan   1S 30W

Just crossed the equator in the second fastest time ever, and just ahead of Groupama when she set the current Jules Verne Record.

It was a slowish doldrums crossing so we lost time there for sure, but did as well as we could in the conditions we had. J

Still NE winds here and we have just got SE winds in a rain cloud, is this the start of the new tradewinds

3 of the crew had a very simple but traditionally nasty crossing the line ceremony and had to drink a conconction Yvon made of olive oil, Tabasco, soya sauce, lemon, pepper and coffee!

I made an offering to Neptune of some of France,s finest saucisson, something I would have enjoyed , but better to propitiqte the god of the sea, just in case, and to keep the tradition; this is my 13 crossing now, so it has worked so far!

Brian x 

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Quick Update

Quick update 1730 27 Jan 03N 30W

Crossing the doldrums now, lots of rain clouds this morning and very light and shifty winds from every compass direction. Hot and humid work changing the sails, the position of the gear, daggerboard and mast canting all the time for max speed. A satisfying 8 hours on deck getting through each cloud..
This afternoon still light but clearer skies so steadier winds, but wind in North so not yet out of the doldrums into the SE Tradewinds. We keep on trying for every mile southwards!

Day 4....

0600 27 Jan 0520N 2956W

Now 320 miles from the equator, and just getting into the start of the doldrums, known as, le pot au noir, on Banque Populaire..

Its still dark here, and the onwatch crew of 4 are driving, holding the gennaker, traveller and mainsheet. That’s everyone with a job. The other 4 of us on stqndby are watching the radar for squalls, grinding the sails back in when they have been eased, and ready to furl the medium gennaker in a strong squall. We also have the full main and staysail up, and in the 15 knots of wind we are doing 25 knots. Seas are flat and it’s a smooth ride on board. Skipper Pascal Bidegorry is up and down between Juan Vila at the nav station and the deckteam, getting us through the squalls with the help of satellite pictures, radar and good old fashioned eyes..So that is 10 people ready to trim the sails at a moments notice. The other 4 are off watch and sleeping, generally only called upon for an emergency or a major sail change such as peeling between our 3 gennakers..

So today will be a busy day, and hoping to get through the doldrums and into the SE tradewinds that lie to the south of us. Maximum concentration to get through as quickly as possible and not to be caught out in a sudden gust..

So that is today on BPV, hot and humid,with alertness level 5.


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Day 3.75

Day 3.75 0600 1545N 2923W

15 degrees and 45 minutes North….quick calculation….15 times 60miles is 900 plus 45 makes a total of 945 nautical miles to the equator. That’s the first major milestone after the Ushant start. Looks like we will get there in a similar time to Groupama. We had a great run till yesterday afternoon when the NW wind dropped, and we trickled along waiting for the wind to shift to the typical NE winds of this latitude.

We are now in light tradewinds of around 12- 15 knots, but the wind feels much less powerful in this tropical air. However we should have a good wind angle soon as the wind swings more towards the East. The seas are very flat so only a couple of knots more wind and we will be flying again. The forecasts are not for much more wind than this though, and at this point Groupama was going fast in strong tradewinds.

But we are not perturbed by them catching up as if it was a real race in the same weather conditions - in the big picture we are within our target to the equator, in fact remarkably similar to the timings of the routing simulations we had at the start.

It was a great run till the wind dropped, a point to point 2,100
miles in 3 days, all VMG running with several gybes in there as well.

Incredible going. My best run before that was 697 on Maiden 2, the ex Club Med, which for several years was the record, that was a great trip and a story in itself with a great mixed team including Adrienne Cahalan and Sam Davies, in fact there were more girls than boys on board.

Out here life is good, everyone has change into their tropical wear of shorts and longsleeve shirts, with maybe a jacket at night.

Normally at this point; the first dry day, the boat would be looking a bit like a Caribbean laundry with clothes attached everywhere to catch the sun, but I put away my perfectly dry thermals ready to put on in about a weeks time..3 days of constant spray, 2100 miles and not a drop, thanks Musto!

Incredible stars again and was steering towards one called Canopus tonight…and in case you are wondering how I know…I do have an app for that!

Ok, lets hope the wind exceeds the forecast today…

A demain

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Day 2.7...

Recieved from Brian at 07:45  25/01/11
Stars, stars and more stars here, this latitude near the Canaries gives a great view of the heavens!

Still in bizarre NW tradewinds here, but making good miles towards the next milestone, the Cape Verdes.

All good here, fine spirits on board and everyone working like a well oiled machine. Many of the team have sailed with the boat for the last 2 years, and even a newcomer like me has been training with the team since last April. Good thing too as changing sails is a complex series of events.

Have to be onwatch now, bye for now…


Monday, 24 January 2011

Day 2!

Out here we have been making astonishing progress, it’s taken just over 2 days to the Canaries, and its already getting hot. Boots are put away and thermals being stored ready to use again in the South.

The next few days won’t be as fast as we are entering a parallel universe with NW winds where the NE tradewinds should be.. The first night we had some big waves off Finisterre. Last night was great with 25-30 knots of wind and flatter seas and tonight the seas are going to be flatter again, though the winds will start to drop a little soon.

Driving this boat is a real privilege, like getting the keys to an F1 car, you have to be hyper alert to get the best speed within what is safe for the sea state. Today I touched 45 knots but that was not what I wanted to do, its all about the average speed round the track, not the top speed on the straight,

We are all settling into the watch system 4 hours on standby, 4 hours on watch, 4 hours off watch. I will break that down later. I have a great watch team of Yvon Ravussin, Pierre Yves Moreau and Thierry Chabigny et moi.

Not much wildlife – I have seen a flying fish, but not a single bird and Fred’s watch saw some dolphins, but not a great tally yet.

Excuse the spelling, I guess its still a little bumpy here at 35 knots, but so much better than before; when it was like a underground train going over a motocross course.

Hope all is good there

Great footage from day one onboard Banque Populaire V

Day one of the Jules Verne Trophy onboard maxi trimiran Banque Populaire V.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Photos from Brian's start

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Brest, France

SKipper, Pascal spoke earlier about the first 24hrs....

Pascal Bidegorry spoke in the french vacations earlier, this is the summary based on my translation - please dont quote me!: BPV has seen up to 47 knots of wind in a strong and short sea in the approach of the Cape Finisterre. We have clocked above 40 knots in boat speed, it is necessary to pay attention at this speed.

We have put all equipment in the back, it was even necessary to put a bit of ballast aft, because the boat has a tendency to nose dive as we found on the record of Mediterranean Sea. It was a bit tense last night, but we did all our maneuvers well.

For the first night at sea the crew have been abused a little, and this will continue throughout the day as i speak to you we have over 30 knots of winds and are doing 35knots! For this morning we are just focused on the weather to come.



The first 12 hours.....

Received from Brian at 7:30 am 23/1/2011

Hope all good; this is a French keyboard and some of the keys are in different places to a QWERTY keyboard, so excuse the spelling…

Yesterday was a great start, beautiful dawn departure from the Brest harbour in light winds, just like going for one of our many training sails, except for the crowd on the dock to see us off, and Ice on the deck reminded us it was still winter.

Having no engine we were expertly pulled off the dock with 4 RIBS and then towed out of the Bay by our biggest RIB. After hoisting the main it was a short sail of an hour to the startling through the Chenal du Four.

As we approached the line the wind dropped from 15 to 6 knots, this was not looking like a spectacular start. Fortunately and hopefully as a sign, the wind picked up just as we crossed the line at 11.11.45, the voice of the official timekeeper on Le Creac,h lighthouse, telling us we were off, and thqt wqe needed to be back by dinnertime on the 11th of March…..good to know..

Once past Ushant the wind returned and we started to hit the average speed we need round the world, 25 knots. The sun was out and the seas were flat. I managed to grab a couple of hours sleep.

By the night the wind was up to 30 knots with a short, steep sea, and is now touching 40 as we sweep past Cape Finisterre. We have changed right down to 2 reefs and the genoa but its hard to keep a steady speed in the low 30s, top speed 45 knots, but that,s not somewhere we want to stay very long.. A few stuffs of the bow made sleep a little hard to find, so glad of catching some zzs earlier. Now on standby 4 till 8 before next on watch until 12

All good on the maxi BPV and we seem to be outpacing our routing so that’s all good.


Saturday, 22 January 2011

The night before the big day.....

 for me, and I am excited as a kid. It really feels like a great chance to set an historic time. We have the most incredible and well prepared boat, a great skipper, great crew. The weather is looking decent for the first leg to the equator. Not perfect, but we are looking at a time of near 6 days for this first section. Early start tomorrow, we are all going to be down at dawn and then wait for the morning weather files, and  then decide exactly what time to leave.

Was down on the boat earlier today, and we are not the only trimaran straining at its mooring lines. Sodebo is tied up 5 meters in front. That boat is facing the same 28,000 mile course, but solo, and its going to be an amazing and different challenge. The record he has to beat is incredibly fast, but if anyone can do it, it is Thomas. He is the complete offshore sailor, he has done everything, and I was lucky enough to have him as part of my 'dream team' on Doha 2006 on the Oryx Quest round the world race.
There is nobody stronger, more determined, and more deserving to get this record..I will be following him all the way, and wishing him well.
The funny thing is that 2 years on the Vendee Globe I talked to Thomas as he went scorching past me, going 26 to my 16. This year the shoe is on the other foot and I will be on the faster boat.. I look forward to the day we will be on the same boat again!