Joyon and IDEC pick their way through Ice Fields

Francis Joyon on IDEC ©Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Idec

Francis Joyon, onboard the giant trimaran IDEC 2, crossed a veritable minefield in the midst of the vast South Pacific Ocean yesterday. At an unusual latitude of less than 53 degrees South, the onboard radar detected no less than four huge chunks of ice, one of which approached, according to the observations of Joyon, 400 meters long. At December 23, IDEC 2 had an lead of 2,982 miles on the record of Ellen MacArthur, or 7 to 8 days at sea.

The expected swing of wind to the northwest finally arrived. Joyon has thus been able to track northeast to bypass the center of the depression, before resuming its direct route to Cape Horn at more than 23 knots. The skipper of IDEC has therefore been able to meet its decision not to descend below 56° south, that he had set as a limit because of the risks of icebergs. And that, 'even if the limits are meant to be taken as rules to be broken.'

We forget the virulence of the depression that he is currently negotiating, 40 knots and more last night with the shorebreak typical of this part of the world. 'Everything here is white, the sky, the sea and iceberg' Joyon as if commenting on a friendly TV documentary.

The tension is very present, in a 'war' when the alarms scream in the cockpit at the overspeed and icebergs. The Horn is still 2,300 miles away and Joyon is counting on the depression to propel him to 500 miles and more a day.

Christmas is definitely a difficult period in these latitudes:

Far from any hospitable land, in the heart of the South Pacific, the lone sailor must sacrifice everything for the smooth running of the giant trimaran. The eye glued to the barometer, you must also fix its trajectory accurately on the strong southwest flow, which swells toward Cape Horn.

'Yesterday I had to slow the boat hard in the shorebreak,' says Joyon 'I still have 32 knots and it goes stronger to the edge of the depression, 40-45 knots ... The multi likes medium .. . soon as sweeping the sea, the boat goes crabbing and this is not good for speed ... the sea was huge tonight. I made a departure for surfing on the crest of a wave, crash with the key ... '

Joyon, was quick to point out the positions of unexpected icebergs Saturday night at this latitude, to competitors in the Barcelona Race. 'The convention is that the danger is absent beyond 55 N, but this year the ice drifts a little higher. I noted their positions to make them available to competitors in the Barcelona World Race.'