It took a lot of effort, including about a dozen back-breaking gybes of their monster-sized trimaran, but the crew of the French-flagged Spindrift multihull beat their own record time from Ushant to the Equator by an hour on their quest to win the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest fully-crewed lap of the planet.
The time has to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) but by their own timing the Spindrift team crossed the equator just four days, 19 hours and 57 minutes after setting off from France on the morning of Wednesday 16 January.
Their sizzling pace also puts them lead of 23 hours (180 miles) over the virtual track of the current JVT holders – Francis Joyon’s IDEC Sport.
Yann Guichard’s Spindrift crew had to work flat out for that advantage, battling a lumpy seaway as they fought to stay in the best of the trade winds and picked their way through the Canary Islands and Cape Verde archipelagos.
They entered the Doldrums at 2-degrees north where they estimated the effect would be least and were rewarded with a clear sky to observe the lunar eclipse.
Remarkably Spindrift 2 has been averaging 26 knots since leaving Ushant – covering more than 620 miles a day, even including the passage through the Doldrums.
At 1900 UTC today the crew were rocketing almost due south at 26 knots as they tried to line themselves up for similarly fast run over the second section of the Atlantic down to the cape of Good Hope.
Encouragingly, at that time their lead over IDEC’s benchmark time was up to 274 nautical miles.