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Coville back into the lead!
Weather comes good for Thomas Coville in the South Atlantic
Monday March 14th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected
For the first time since 4 February, when he was crossing the Doldrums outbound, Thomas Coville and Sodebo have achieved what seemed to be impossible when they were back in the Southern Ocean and have edged ahead of the record pace for the solo non-stop round the world record set by Francis Joyon and IDEC.
Just nine days ago, Sodebo was 1269 miles astern of her rival thanks to IDEC's almost unbeatable progress outbound in the Southern Atlantic, when he was able to cut the corner of the St Helena high pressure and enjoyed near ideal weather conditions crossing the Indian Ocean. While he was in the Southern Ocean, Coville said that he believed he would still be in with a chance if he was less than 1000 miles astern of IDEC at Cape Horn - he was and today's outcome has come to pass as a result.
As the chart above indicates, Coville has been more fortunate with his track north returning up the South Atlantic than Joyon was and aside from a four hour window on Saturday morning Sodebo's boat speed has not dropped below 10 knots and more typically has been full bore 105ft trimaran cruising speed of 18-20 knots average.
At the latest sched Sodebo is at the latitude of Rio and given her proximity to the Brazil coast, her lead is likely to reduce once over the course of the next 24 hours as she is forced to tack offshore once again in order to get enough sea room to get her past Recife - still some 1000 mile up the race track.
However finally the weather gods may be smiling on Coville for at present the northeasterly trades, which would normally be blowing where he is now and would force him to make a badly losing tack offshore, are in fact more northerly and it could be that firstly this offshore tack won't prove as costly and secondly the forecast for 24 hours hence indicates that due to the position of the St Helena high (with a giant lobe reaching out towards Recife come tomorrow morning) the wind may veer into the east only once he has got offshore...which would be a result. We shall see. Another downside of going on to port tack is that Sodebo's damaged crashbox on her starboard bow is likely to start unpeeling itself. Fortunately the remainder of the passage back to Brest should be predominantly on starboard with the float out of the water.
At present Sodebo has 4800 miles to go and must reach the finish line off Ushant before 00:40 GMT on Monday 28 March.