After 31 days, 23 hours, 36 minutes and 46 seconds of sailing, Francis Joyon and his crew of Bertrand Delesne, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon set a new record for the Tea Route between Hong Kong and London this morning. Francis and his men have knocked an impressive 4 days, 2 hours off Giovanni Soldini and Maserati’s two-year-old record. They’re about three times faster than the clipper ships of the late 19th century. Sailing upwind up the River Thames and under the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in London, the 105-ft VPLP maxi-trimaran added yet another impressive feather to her cap. The boat currently holds the Trophée Jules Verne for the fastest outright circumnavigation, an incredible three straight Route du Rhum victories, and countless other records.
Encountering a wide range of conditions along the long and difficult Tea Route from London, the big French trimaran was in ‘survival mode’ just a couple of days before the finish when the team sailed along the bottom of an intense low-pressure system with big breeze and waves up to 6 meters (20-ish feet) tall — the latest in a series of storms to wreak havoc on western Europe.
Since departing Hong Kong on January 18, IDEC Sport has sailed at an average speed of 20.7 knots over 15,873 miles. With a fast run down the China Sea and across the Indian Ocean, the team led Maserati by about a day and a half at the Cape of Good Hope, but struggled through a very slow passage of the South Atlantic Ocean and across the doldrums, putting them just behind Maserati’s pace — briefly — in the North Atlantic Ocean. The team then bounced to an incredible 1,100-plus-mile lead over the reference time in the North Atlantic. The boat arrived in London quite literally on fumes, with no diesel fuel in the tank, and sustaining charging issues.
This record brings IDEC Sport’s 2019-20 Asian Tour to a triumphant close. After leaving Lorient’s Port-Louis in late October, Francis Joyon sailed solo and smashed his own 10-year-old record along the 8,800-mile route to Port Louis in Mauritius, lowering the bar by more than six days to a new reference time of 19 days and 18 hours. Picking up his crew in Mauritius, Joyon then established two new records between Mauritius and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and between Ho Chi Minh City and Shenzhen, China, before delivering the boat to Hong Kong for a holiday break followed by a crack at the Tea Route. They got out of Hong Kong and China just in the nick of time, before the coronavirus ground the region to a halt. The team can now take a much-deserved break.
Bravo to Francis Joyon and the entire IDEC Sport team!
It’s no surprise that we so often find sailors in the mountains. We have often said that while seemingly disparate, skiing and sailing go hand in hand. We’ve speculated that maybe it’s a love for the outdoors and the fickle muse that is Mother Nature. When we were talking with windsurfer Carol Valk last year, she said that sailing reminded her of skiing and “the pursuit for the perfect turn.”
On Super Bowl Sunday, a few weeks ago, we drove into Tahoe City as a light snow started to fall. We were thinking we’d score fresh tracks the next day, and we did, but the conditions were more ‘dust on crust’ than ‘deep, fluffy powder’. But it was a Monday, and much like sailing — where any bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office — we were just happy to be in the mountains.
Our love — nay, obsession — for that perfect turn on the snow has led us to many an early-morning trip to Tahoe between December and April. But did you know, Latitude Nation, that Lake Tahoe is open for business in the summer as well? The sailing, they say, is supposed to be fantastic.
Much like their sailing brethren, skiers often enjoy a cold libation after a satisfying day on the (frozen) water. So naturally, we ran into a bunch of sailors while visiting one of our favorite not-so-underground bars.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, everyone: We want to sail on Tahoe this summer! While skiing at Heavenly or Homewood — two resorts that are right on the water — we find ourselves mind-sailing the many nooks and crannies of the second-largest alpine lake in the world (that’s 36.15 cubic miles). It has often been said that Latitude‘s founder wasn’t crazy about the finiteness of lake sailing. Well, even if you can’t sail to another country from Tahoe, you can sail to another state, and there seems to be plenty of room to get around.
We’ve asked this question before, and we’ll ask it again: Any Lake Tahoe sailors out there? Or alpine sailors in general? How about sailors who ski or skiers who sail? Anyone want to plan a summer sail? We’d love to hear from you (again). Please, comment below, or drop us a line and some pictures.
We don’t quite get websites that intentionally run bogus stories. Well, okay, some ‘articles’ are amusing and we guess that sells ads. But these days, journalism is having a tough enough time with credibility without throwing gasoline onto the fire. Our two cents:
One of the latest tall tales to make the rounds — again — involves sailing . . . or actually doesn’t because the story is bunk. But perhaps it might have popped up on your radar (as it did ours) recently, so we thought it deserved a mention. Here’s a quick review.
A 68-year-old California man named Irvin Walters has gone missing in the Southern Ocean after departing Sydney, Australia, back in November. The retired trucker believes the Earth is flat and intended to sail his boat to the ‘edge of the disc’ where he would take pictures to prove it to all the doubters. (In the interest of full disclosure, that includes us.)
Supposedly, in addition to all the Australian Navy and Coast Guard assets looking for him, the US, New Zealand and the Philippines have also contributed to the search for Walters — who, if any of this was real, would presumably be somewhere in the Southern Ocean.
Which must be costing them a fortune, since this story first appeared on another bogus website in 2018. So what is that, 16 months and counting?
One of the sites shows an old bearded guy on a boat that doesn’t look as if it could make it across a lake, much less an ocean. We have no idea who the guy in the photo really is. There are certainly numerous American men named Irvin Walters. Whether he is actually one of them is unclear.
We’re not going to tell you the websites where this nuttiness appeared for the simple reason that we don’t want to give them any more attention. We’re telling you on the outside chance you might see it and believe it for more than two seconds. (If you really want to see it, Google.) For the record, we don’t think there’s anything funny about it at all.
As if things couldn’t get any weirder, and once again proving that truth is far stranger than fiction, several ‘legitimate’ websites ran stories last year reporting that the Flat Earth International Conference had announced their “biggest, boldest, best adventure yet: a Flat Earth cruise scheduled for 2020.”
Yes, a cruise – on a cruise ship – to the literal end of the earth, where some believe that a giant ice wall ‘holds the oceans in.’ A spokesperson for the FEIC (which is real) has debunked this story as rumor that — like so much other junk on the internet — has taken on a life of its own. There may be a conference aboard a cruise ship at some point this year, he said, but the ship is not headed to the edge.
Bottom line: don’t believe everything you read . . . well, except that the world is round. You can believe that.