Last week we reported on Francis Joyon’s west-to-east solo Transatlantic record attempt onboard his maxi-trimaran IDEC. The singlehander from Brittany departed New York last Wednesday bound for Lizard Point, the southernmost point in England, some 2,880 nautical miles distant. With his sights set firmly on toppling Thomas Coville’s 2008 crossing of 5d, 19h, Joyon hooked into a depression that catapulted him toward Europe at a speed well ahead of the reference time.
Sailing well south of the Great Circle route — to which Coville stayed north of — Joyon kept IDEC lit up all the way across, averaging more than 23 knots of boat speed and threatening his own 24-hour solo distance record of 666.2 nm on multiple occasions. While Joyon came up just short of the mark on setting a new 24-hour record — his best daily run was 655.5 nautical miles — he absolutely shattered the North Atlantic record, knocking more than 16.5 hours off of Coville’s time. The new singlehanded TransAtlantic record stands at a brief 5d, 2h, 56m!
Joyon now holds the ‘big four’ singlehanded records: 1) The Solo Round the World record of 57d, 13h set in 2008; 2) The Columbus Route from Cadiz to San Salvador of 8d, 16h; 3) the 24-Hour Solo Record of 666 miles (or 27.75 knots); and 4) The TransAtlantic Record he just set. It would be nice to see him go for the TransPac record, wouldn’t it?
Elsewhere in the world of big trimarans going really, really fast, the inaugural La Route des Princes continues to amaze crowds and offer up fantastic racing. With the second offshore leg underway, the fleet of four MOD 70s, four Multi 50s and a Maxi 80 tri are currently speeding around Cape Finisterre en route from Lisbon, Portugal to Dublin, Ireland via Fastnet Rock. After finishing at the tail end of a small but immensely competitive MOD 70 fleet during the inshore racing in Lisbon, Jean-Pierre Dick’s new Virbac-Paprec 70 is leading the fleet during the 990-mile offshore leg from Lisbon to Dublin. The MOD 70 racing has been absolutely thrilling with all four teams having tasted inshore victory, last place defeat and everything in between.
While not nearly as big, flashy or fast as the maxi-tris, we would be remiss in not giving the Solitaire du Figaro some love. The single most competitive offshore race in the world is going on right now with 40 identical Beneteau Figaro IIs racing solo all over western Europe. After winning Leg Two, Vendée Globe runner-up Armel Le Cléac’h finds himself deeper in the fleet, while up-and-comer Morgan Lagraviére has taken advantage of a second in Leg Two and his first leg win in Leg Three to move into the overall lead.
After leading for two legs, perennial contender Yann Eliés has slipped to third overall, just 32 minutes behind the leaders, despite breaking his forestay (!) while sailing upwind during Leg Three. Sailing with a full main and genoa in 20 knots of westerly breeze, the past Figaro winner — who achieved international fame after breaking his femur in the Southern Ocean during the 2008-09 Vendée — has managed to turn his boat downwind, lash on a temporary headstay and finish the leg.
The Nicaraguan government has just approved a contract for HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd to build a canal between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The Hong Kong-based investment company says it would take up to 11 years to compete and cost more than $40 billion.
The canal proposal received astonishingly quick approval from the leftist-controlled National Assembly dominated by President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinistra Front. Curiously, no route has been chosen, the investment company has no experience with huge construction projects, and environmentalists and shipping experts are skeptical.
No matter which route is chosen, it’s expected to be about 130 miles through jungles, lakes and supposedly protected lands, although it will probably take advantage of (35-mile-wide) Lake Nicaragua and/or the Rio San Juan. Panama’s Canal is about 42 miles long.
Nicaragua was, of course, originally slated to be the site of the first canal between the Pacific and the Caribbean. But then U.S. senators began meddling, and essentially created the country of Panama out of a corner of Colombia so they could build the canal they wanted to support their constituents’ business interests.
If Nicaragua could create a profitable canal — a gigantic ‘if’ — it could dramatically recast the geopolitics of the area as well as give the Chinese a major strategic stronghold in Central America.
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Teams for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup — sailed in AC45s — are training hard for the September 1-4 regatta. The American Youth Sailing Force, San Francisco’s hometown team, will answer questions and explain their plans for winning the event at a Mixer & Auction at Golden Gate YC on this Friday, June 21. The evening kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with an open bar, hors d’oeurves and a silent auction. Olympic medalist and AC vet Bob Billingham will give a CupDate on the Louis Vuitton, then the Force will take over from there. Tickets are $75 ($85 at the door) and can be ordered at forceggyc.eventbrite.com. Email for more info or to make a donation to AYSF.
In the meantime, check out the video below detailing their training regimen. A delightful cross between an Ironman competition, a Monkees video and a Chippendales show, the ladies might especially appreciate it.
Release of the revised Louis Vuitton racing schedule July 7, forced many would-be spectators to re-examine their viewing plans. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the new schedule still includes Artemis Racing in six early July races, despite the fact that team spokesmen have clearly stated that they don’t expect to be ready to compete until late July.
Can they do that? Yes, because with so few boats competing for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the early ’round robin’ races were only going to determine the seeding order for the LV Semi-Finals. So, every time Artemis fails to compete in a scheduled race, their opponent will win by default. And if Artemis’ predicted timetable proves true, they will simply enter the LV Semi-Final as the third seed (behind Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge or LRC and ETNZ).
What about all those eager fans who bought tickets for the early rounds? All round-robin and also Semi-Finals tickets are now being refunded by the SF Giants organization (which is handling all shoreside ticketing). For the time being, anyway, you cannot buy tickets for any event prior to August 17 (start of the LV Cup finals). Also, the much-anticipated fleet race, originally scheduled for July 5, has apparently been shelved.
Tickets for the LV finals and the actual America’s Cup (which begins September 7) are definitely on sale, however, with pricing starting at $25. Ticketed venues include Race Course Bleachers (on the spit near the Golden Gate YC); The Deck and East and West Grandstands, all on the Marina Green; aboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien; at the Pier 39 (garage) Rooftop; and at America’s Cup Park, at Piers 27 & 29 (finish line viewing). As reported earlier, you will also be able to view some races on TV, with awesome LiveLine graphics overlays, as well as online. (Check the event site closer to the race dates for updated listings.)
A small number of large-capacity charter boats have secured special status for on-the-water viewing just outside the course boundaries. However, these boats may not know until the actual race day where, exactly, they will be allowed to moor or idle on any given day.
Beyond this privileged zone, any and all boaters are welcome to try their luck at seeing part of the action. Look for more on AC viewing info and tips in the July edition of Latitude 38 magazine.