Sodeb'O has now left the rollercoaster ride of the Indian Ocean and is entering the Pacific
Thomas Coville has reached the midway point in his circumnavigation (350 miles away at 15:00 GMT 16 December). He is entering into the Pacific Ocean with a fairly northerly route at around 47 degrees. The skipper from La Trinité is positioned at the front of a low, which is promising him winds in excess of 30 knots, and he is keeping an eye on an ice zone situated below New Zealand.
Read extracts from the radio session recorded at midday on Tuesday (16 December):
Your reaction following the announcement that Mike Golding has dismasted in the Vendée Globe?
‘We all live with the fear of breakage. I can feel that my boat is suffering, so I’m obviously tense, wondering ultimately what is going to give up the ghost. Sailing is a mechanical sport above all else. Knowing when you are just on the limit and when you’ve gone beyond it is very tricky.’
Your analysis of Michel Desjoyeaux’ startling comeback?:
‘An irritated, angry Michel Desjoyeaux is forearmed! Having been neck and neck with him, it’s difficult to keep him behind. He was shrewd and benefited from some very favourable weather conditions. He is capable of being above average for the duration. He knows how to be a machine and make headway without asking himself too many questions. For me, this viewpoint is often a source of reference.’
Why are you maintaining such a N’ly trajectory?
‘Last year, an enormous sheet of ice measuring several kilometres long came free from the Antarctic bound for the Pacific and it has since split up. We aren’t gladiators. We aren’t in a circus and when we have information about a risky zone we seek to avoid it. This is one of the reasons that I’m making a more N’ly course than that of Francis at the moment.’
You are soon at the midway point in the course, how will you tackle the second stage of the circumnavigation?
‘I’ll take it as it comes, with this deficit. We knew that Francis’ trajectory up till now was exceptional and that the second half is where I’m going to have to make gains. Doubtless there’s fairly little I can do in the Pacific but it’s on the climb up the Atlantic where I have a chance of making up my deficit. We estimate that there is between 3 and 4 days to be gained over this section. The boat will have to be in perfect condition and I will have to be in sufficiently good shape to get the most out of her.’
What is your psychological state?
‘At times we had a tendency to say that all you have to do to succeed is to attempt these records but the performance to beat today is indicative of the sporting value of this record. Ellen and Francis had a big lead over me at this stage. Unlike me, they didn’t have to battle with the deficit, which is making me work a great deal on myself so as to continue to be as determined as I am. To have the strength of character to come back is the sign of great champions and I’m telling myself that it’s worth hanging on in there and gritting my teeth.’
How’s your boat prior to entering into the Pacific?
‘Sodeb’O is my primary satisfaction. I feel very good aboard. The better it is the more we become one. We have become good friends who are keen to complete this circumnavigation together! Both of us are in good condition despite this chaotic sea. I get a real sense of pleasure at having brought this boat to life with the whole team.’
* 628.5 covered by the Maxi Trimaran Sodeb’O at an average speed of 26.19 knots on 7 December 2008 in the Indian Ocean (awaiting approval from the WSSRC).