It's now 10 days since we returned to base at Lorient on Banque Populaire V, and if we had not run into an UFO (unidentified floating object) to the SE of South Africa, or had any other issues, we would now have been already around the Horn and been back in the tropics, travelling up the coast of Brasil towards the Equator.
Would we have been ahead or behind the record? Who knows, but one thing is certain - it would have been very close.. This Jules Verne record has very little slack in it now, as the time has plunged from 79 days down to 48 days..You can now compare it to beating Vettel on a qualifying lap in F1 – you are going to have to pull out all the stops and have a faultless lap. No mechanical problems, nobody getting in your way – and you have to be driving a very fast vehicle!
But that’s all a dream now, the thing to focus on is that we got back safely and will be ready to fight again soon. We had thought that there was even a very slim chance of leaving again this season, as we were leaving the door open until about the 10th of March. After that it is getting too late at the other end of the Southern Ocean - even leaving March 10 means going around Cape Horn around the April 10, which is the equivalent of the 10th of October for us Northerners. So that’s the 57th Parallel after the Autumnal equinox, with the nights already significantly longer than the days, and the storms really starting to become more powerful, so that’s the absolute limit.
The Banque Pop shore team had worked really hard to get the boat ready for a fast restart, but a little problem found with the aft beam is going to need more careful inspection and repair than the time we have available, so the refit has gone off red alert and on to normal time, and we are going to get ready for a new standby in early November, in 8 months time.
Although it would have been a great story to sail half way around the world, turn back and then restart immediately and then get the record, I think this delay is going to give us a much greater chance of success. Time to test out the boat over the spring and summer and then be even more prepared for November. Actually, I thought we were incredibly well prepared back in Brest, but there are always things learnt over 15,000 miles of sailing, especially miles sailed on the route, and its all going to help us for next time.
I would love to go again, and I am looking forward to our next attempt. This trip really showed that I still have a real passion for this round the world course, for being at sea, whether its fully crewed, solo or double handed. I am very lucky to have been able to do it 3 times already non stop so far..Every time is different, each time is a unique challenge.
I have been following closely the Barcelona World Race. I am particularly drawn to see both how my old Vendee Globe boat is doing, now renamed Hugo Boss, with Andy and Wouter, and also Dee and Anna on Gaes, the ex Aviva. Dee is about to get her 4th round the world under her belt, and her 3rd non stop..The funny thing is that the 2 boats are as close together as they were during the last Vendee in the same Pacific waters. Different sequence of events to get there, but the same outcome, quite uncanny. Hope they don’t have to again park up at Cape Horn for 18 hours for a storm to pass, as we both did last time!
Amazing battle at the front of the fleet between ‘Goose and Maverick’, the Spanish all stars on Mapfre, and the French vets on Virbac. They are both going very quickly, its going to be a great race to watch right to the finish. Just watched the video of Virbac getting round the Horn, thrilling footage, really close the the island..
Also watching the solo outright record attempt of Thomas Coville, he is 1000 miles back now, but can make that time up in the Atlantic, its only an arrears of 2 days, he just needs some lucky breaks in the weather. He is showing great mental toughness to just keep pushing and see how the cards fall at the end. It was the same position 2 years ago for him, and it did not work out in the end, so I hope it does this time..
After a few days working on the boat last week, I flew home and took the kids down to Salcombe to visit my mother. We had a great time there. Next up this weekend is the Toe in the Water training weekend in Gosport for the volunteer crew who assist the injured servicemen racing in Cowes Week and other regattas throughout the year. It will be great to catch up with my old friends from the charity. I have only 2 worries, one is writing and doing a talk for Saturday morning, and the other is the Camouflage party they are holding Saturday night..The sailing Saturday afternoon will be a piece of cake - I have lots of thermals ready!
Ok, better sign off now..I will try to keep this blog updated more regularly from now on, and also to add photos from the Banque Populaire trip as I receive them from the guys in Lorient, so do keep checking in.