Jules Verne Trophy 2011 - Brian Thompson reports

Crossing the Equator on Banque Populaire V
Brian Thompson* is a crew member aboard the Maxi Trimiran Banque Populaire V, which is attempting to break the 'fully crewed' Jules Verne record. **

Brian Thompson:

Tuesday 1 February evening update


The train has finally pulled out of the station, after we have been waiting around on the platform for three days!

We are now feeling the effects of a small low pressure and For the first time since the equator we have have wind of over 20 knots and we are making the most of it, sitting at a steady 30plus knots of speed in relatively flqat seas. The sky is now cloudy, and it is starting to cool down outside as we rocket down through the 30s in latitude.

Whether this particular train is going all the way to the Cape of Good Hope, remains to be seen. The weather models still widely divergent even in a short time scale (something unlikely in the North Atlantic), so all we can do now is hang on and enjoy the ride.

Day 9.75 waiting for the express train South...
0730 1 Feb Pos 29S 38 30W


Still at the station waiting for the SE express train to pull in. Looks like it will be arriving tonight, though there are two different timetables on display, the European timetable is showing a direct service, and the US timetable is showing major engineering works and we could be taking the bus at times.

So the low is finally coming to us, but the 2 major weather models have widely divergent views on what is going to happen. Fingers crossed the European model is correct.

Otherwise its delightful sailing, no water on deck, now warm instead of hot. Still big gennaker and full mainsail. We have done several gybes each day, and all have gone like clockwork. Moved sails back and forward as the wind increased and dropped,and hoisted and lowered the staysail several times. Spending most of the time fine tuning the precise shape of the gennaker and the position of the main traveller and mainsheet.

Saw a green flash at sunset then another at sunrise, which I think is a first for me. A green flash (rayon vert on board) is when the top 5 percent of the sun turns green when only that piece is above the horizon. So the sun turns from yellow to a dayglow green just for a second. Its caused by that very low sun shining though thousands of miles of atmosphere and the rest of the light spectrum being absorbed, leaving just the green. It can only happen when the visibility is really good and there are no clouds on the horizon where the sun is sinking, or rising.

The one in the morning was really distinct, and I was filming it on video, so hope it came out. Thierry and Yvon saw it as well, so I am not making it up, and not been at sea too long.

Looking forward to leaving the South American coastline and heading for Africa!

Bye for now.

Day 8.75
0730 31 Jan Pos 24S 38W


Leaving the tropics now after five 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 four 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 three minutes..better press the envoyer/recevoir button.

Brian Thompson Sailing website

Background:

*British sailor Brian Thompson has broken 25 world sailing records. His feats include sailing with Steve Fossett for 11 years, the 2001 EDS Atlantic Challenge, 2003 Transat Jaques Vabre, the volvo Ocean Race on ABN Amro One, skippering the 'Artemis' IMOCA 60, the Vendee Globe in 2009, to name just a few. Brian is also an Ambassador for Toe in the Water charity.

**Banque Populaire V set off this morning from the Port du Chateau in Brest and crossed the start line off Ushant at 11h11m45sec (UTC) for the Maxi’s first attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. Pascal Bidegorry and his 13 crew have to be back in less than 48 days, 7 hours, 44 minutes and 52 seconds in order to beat the record time established by Groupama 3 in March 2010.

Banque Populaire V website (in french) here