Thomas Coville begins his round the world race against time on board Sodeb'O

The maxi-trimaran Sodeb’O crossed the start line of its solo round the world record attempt this afternoon (Tuesday 18 November) at 13 hours 54 minutes and 14 seconds GMT precisely. There was 15 to 17 knots of N/NW’ly wind and the boat was making headway under one reef mainsail and staysail.

To beat Francis Joyon’s record, Thomas Coville (pictured with previous Jules Verne Trophy record holder Olivier de Kersauson) will have to pass the Petit Minou lighthouse at the entrance to Brest harbour no later than 03 hours, 27 minutes and 20 seconds GMT 15 January 2009.

“It’s a moment for which we’ve all been waiting for several weeks,” Thomas explained. “The freedom in the choice of departure time is an important and decisive decision for the next stage. We decided to set out today because this morning the situation between the Canaries and the Cape Verde islands has become clearer, without being completely transparent! The routing we did at 0900 hours this morning with the grib files fulfilled the ‘theoretical’ objective of making the equator in 7 days.”

He continued, “after observing the situation over the past few days, it looks really good now with a fairly easy sea state at the start in a 20-25 knot NW’ly, which will be followed by a N/NE’ly wind rotation, providing the multihull with a better angle on the wind”.

In other words a fine downwind descent pushed by the breeze is in view, “conditions in which the boat shouldn’t suffer too much and where I can make good speed without being overly physical.”

The skipper concluded his last radio session on shore with a few more personal thoughts: “I admit that I love this moment when inertia turns to action; it’s a moment we all prepare for. I certainly feel a twinge of sorrow at leaving land. I am a landlubber like you all but I’m heading into a hostile ocean”.