Coville Goes Sailing For New RTW Record

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by Chris Ostlind, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Thomas Coville took off yesterday from Brest, France in search of a new record for a solo sailed craft, Around The World. The record is held by Francis Joyon right now with his new IDEC trimaran with a blistering circumnavigation of 57 days and some change. WOW, that is flat-out remarkable.

    After sailing on Coville's boat, Sodeb'O this past September, I get a weird buzz on the back of my neck when I watch the slide show of his departure that is showing on the Sodeb'O sailing site.

    Ever since leaving yesterday, he's been clipping along at a steady 24-26 knots. That is exactly the speed at which we were sailing when I was aboard the boat. After driving the boat for a good period of time, I got a very small idea what it is like to be in Coville's shoes right now.

    What I will likely never get, is the true understanding of what it's like to drive the boat like that in the wild and crazy Southern Ocean, all while pushing for every knot. I’ll never understand the full meaning of driving the boat through every weather routing decision, while keeping a constantly watchful eye on the rig and the boat... and trying like hell to stay awake after only being able to nap in 20-minute stretches.

    The dude is special, without a doubt.

    There are guys out there who are laying it all out to get to that magical 50-knot speed mark for 500 meters, or a mile. I respect them for their efforts in every way... but this business of blasting around the planet at an average of 25-26 knots without stopping and all the time there's nobody else on the boat except you... well, that's another thing altogether.

    There are just so many things to keep juggled and juggled exceedingly well, in order to even be in the game, it's simply mind-boggling. You gotta have the right boat. You have to be in supreme mental and physical condition. You have to have a willingness to drive the boat hard in tough conditions, but not so hard that you make yourself inoperable for an extended period afterward. You have to be able to deal with the heat of the tropics and the freezing conditions of the South (even in summer down there)

    You have to be fortunate with the winds and you have to have the best possible weather routing guys on the planet. You can't hit anything in the water and you really have to avoid the icebergs while you skirt the Antarctic Continent as close as you dare, because it gets you around the planet in the shortest possible distance.

    Just so much stuff and you have to keep your cool while all of it competes for the right to make you mad as a circus clown.

    What I will always be able to understand is the pure thrill of driving that wild, running thoroughbred of a boat, Sodeb'O, at 26 knots... even if was only for 20 minutes on a wonderful, early September sailing day off the coast of France.

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  2. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    steering SodebO

    You definitely cut a dash there Chris, as the French would say.
  3. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Well, my Mom still thinks so... but then she's just shy of eighty and has to get cataract surgery in the near future... ;-)
  4. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    And to restore this thread to its correct topic...

    As of this post, Coville is into the attempt some 2 days, 7 hours and 40 minutes and he already has a 59 mile lead on Joyon's record pace. He's whicking along at 24 knots in F6 winds as he nears the Canaries. He has optimal wind direction coming from ENE.

    It looks right now as if he has really good wind patterns all the way past the Cape Verde Islands.

    One of the interesting features on the Sodeb'O site is the button that shows the optimal, projected route for the voyage and how it compares to the routes being run by Coville at present and also Joyon from last year.
  5. RHP
    Joined: Nov 2005
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    RHP Senior Member

    Great stuff, I admire these guys so much.
  6. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Some 18 hours after yesterday's post and now passing the Canary Islands, Coville has increased his lead over the pace set by Joyon to 91.4 miles. Speed right now is 24.8 knots in F5 conditions and has been running pretty steady around that mark the whole time.

    Looks like short sleeved shirt weather for the next week, at least, as he passes through the tropics. After that, it's touch and go as he moves into the far south, even with the summer season upon him.
  7. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Thomas Coville has broken the 24 hour speed/distance record for a solo sailed vessel TWICE in the last couple of days. Here's the report from the Sodeb'O webpage:

    "628.5 miles in 24 hours! Such is the performance achieved on Sunday night at 2045 hours (UT) by Thomas Coville aboard Sodeb'O.

    After initially beating his own record yesterday at 1815 UT after covering 620.80 miles – compared with 619 on 6th January 2008 – the skipper was able to continue lengthening his stride in a building wind. As a result he has improved on his new record, reaching 628.5 miles at 2145 hours at an average speed of 26.19 knots!

    "These speeds are completely insane! To maintain an average of 26.19 knots, you have to regularly make over 30 knots of boat speed, which effectively means you have to be extremely quick the whole time! Sodeb'O is going fast. She loves these conditions as do I! I am very happy with this record for all the people who are accompanying me in this effort. Ellen (MacArthur, patron to the Maxi Trimaran Sodeb'O, who completed this same round the world circuit in 2005) had warned me that despite the very best preparation for this round the world record, you would never be ready, either physically or mentally, for such a testing exercise," admitted the skipper this morning during the telephone link-up.

    This record is awaiting official approval from the body that governs round the world sailing records: the WSSRC."

    After Coville got seriously bumped off his line in the south Atlantic by the abnormally large, St. Helena high off Africa, I had my doubts that he could catch Joyon's record pace. Thomas is presently riding on the lip of the wind patterns from the low pressure zone to which he is coupled. I now sense that there is a very good potential for eating-up the difference between his position and the Joyon pace, putting himself back in contention. If the guy keeps blasting-out 600 mile days, it won't take long.

    On a personal level, I'm just flabbergasted by this latest record with an average speed of 26.19 knots. When I sailed on Sodeb'O in September, we were cooking along at 26 knots, only we had very nice sailing conditions with temps in the low sixties, a modest ground swell and very steady winds of 19 knots. Coville is doing this for 24 hours straight in fairly wild sea states with winds gusting well into the high 30's... and very cold water spraying everywhere.... and he's doing it alone.


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  8. Gary Baigent
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    Coville's record pace

    C'est incroyable, eh Chris?
    But Joyon continues to stretch his lead, 1200 miles now despite Coville's fantastic, exhausting effort - it must be disheartening - despite the adrenalin rush.
  9. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Yes, I would guess that it is very much of a bummer.

    Since he can't really go any faster without putting the whole thing in a real iffy space, the only answer is to go south and out of the really favorable winds that are driving the boat right now.

    About all that can be done, it would appear, is to hope that the front dives a bit south on its own and he gets to go with it for a shorter route.

    So much of this game that they play has to do with the good fortunes of the weather patterns. As we can see, Thomas has a plenty fast boat and he really knows how to drive the thing, (perhaps like no other, actually) but without that weather gift, it just isn't going to come his way.

    Francis, after years of wanting it as bad as Coville, was presented with that other-worldly combination of a very fast boat, the experience of knowing how to push it and the near spiritual gift of one supreme weather window after another, as he nearly flew around the world. The guy truly does deserve to hold this remarkable record and it was no fluke that he nailed it hard when it came before him. The guy is a true, very gritty Waterman of extraordinary proportions.

    There is still a small, glimmering window for Thomas on the horizon, but it may not be his year to bang the corners as he would desire. We'll still have to wait a bit before we put out the light.
  10. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    It's been a while since the last post on this thread. Coville is now nearing Cape Horn in his quest to better Joyon's record and currently he is 1500 miles behind the pace set last year by the very remarkable Francis Joyon.

    While the 1500 mile difference seems like a lot right now, it might be prudent to also observe that just several days ago, he was behind by 2000 miles. Lately, Coville has been cracking-off consistent 500+/- miles a day and still has a small glimmer of hope in catching the pace of Joyon.

    Joyon experienced real problems in the South Atlantic and it is there that Coville hopes to reel him in. Everything, now, depends on weather and the resultant winds as Coville readies himself for the Cape rounding and the turn North.

    I'll just bet that there is a lot of head scratching going on right now via Sat phone, as Coville haggles with his weather routers about what route will work best once he enters the South Atlantic. A couple of very good decisions and a really fortunate weather window and he could be right back in the game for a new record. If he doesn't get the weather patterns he seeks, then it matters not what decisions they make, as the sailing will not be fast enough to close the gap.
  11. Gary Baigent
    Joined: Jul 2005
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    Gary Baigent Senior Member

    claw back - check it out. Sodeb'o since rounding the Horn and reaching fast in flat seas near the South American coast, is taking great chunks out of Idec's lead (over 2000 miles at one stage) and will, I'm guessing, draw level with him in the next few days - then the race to the finish is going to become more than slightly riveting.
  12. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    It looks like he's going to have his way with Joyon's pace up until he gets offshore of Porto Allegre, Brazil. Then, it all depends on what happens with the stuck weather pattern further off coast.

    Joyon was making about 6-8 knots at this same number of days into his run and that speed won't change much for the next three days. If Coville can continue to blast along at his current 24-25 knot buzz, he's going to gouge a huge bunch of miles out of the lead, just as you said, Gary.

    That's a big if, of course, but the numbers spill out of my calculator as a virtual dead heat somewhere off the coast of Brazil. Thomas has shown that he really does have another gear that he can reach down and get and this could get extremely interesting after all the BS that has happened throughout this RTW excursion.

    Very Interesting.
  13. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    I was just looking back a couple of posts on this thread and it just boggles my mind that Coville has clanked more than 500 miles off of Joyon's leading pace in the last 2 1/2 days... 1000 miles if you go back just one week.

    I'm truly amazed that this really could be a serious duel to the end, if the weather Gods keep pushing strong and favorably angled winds Coville's way.

    Ya just never know about these things when it comes to weather stuff. I wish I knew a whole lot more about how to read the flow and have some idea as to what might be brewing out there for the next two weeks.

    It's fun to watch it all unfold.

  14. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Three days have gone by since the last post here and Coville has continued his remarkable climb up the coast of South America, further closing the distance beween himself and the plotted location of Francis Joyon's World Record pace from last year. He is now less than 400 miles back and compressing the distance with every hour at sea by something like 10-12 miles.

    It looks like he's going to be able to sail right up to the edge of the wind shift just north of Rio de Janiero on virtually a broad reach and then do a gybe to adjust to the Trades and scoot over to the Joyon track. From that point on I'm seeing a hard core drag race on a well known path back to Brest, very much along the line set by Joyon.

    We'll see what Coville has left in the name of reaching down for the extra juice necessary on the sprint to the finish.

    He's had extraordinarily good fortune in the run up the SA coast and has put himself right back in the game. This is getting more fun to watch every time I drop by for a visit to the Sodeb'O site.

    Whatever the outcome, these are two very remarkable men who will, no doubt, be trading fast marks on the important blue water records for some years to come.

    There has not been much mention of the work of Nigel Irens/ Benoit Cabaret in producing these two, absolutely amazing boats, IDEC and Sodeb'O, during this ongoing record attempt by Coville. Suffice to say, the Irens/Cabaret efforts have really made a powerful impact on the state of the art of really fast and powerful ocean-going multihulls. Also, sitting right at the top of the list of those due considerable acknowledgement on these efforts should be the two yards that produced these boats; Boatspeed in Australia, having built Sodeb'O and.... IDEC's builder, Marsaudon Composites, in France.

    Coville's deficit as of 08:55 MST.... 382 miles and closing
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