Due to an 'anticyclonic swamp' across the North Atlantic, Thomas Coville is being forced to make a massive detour to the West
Thomas Coville onboard maxi trimaran Sodebo is attempting to break Francis Joyon’s IDEC solo round the World Record. It’s the 52nd day at sea for Thomas and it has brought more setbacks. Due to the ‘anticyclonic swamp’ sprawling across the North Atlantic, Thomas Coville is being forced to make a massive detour via the West.
Since crossing the equator last Sunday (read previous story here), Coville has been focusing on his speed rather than his heading, in a bid to snatch up an opportunity to hook onto a depression rolling in to the North. He has managed to retain a good average speed and was still making around 19 knots yesterday, however the wind will gradually ease as it enters the ridge of high pressure associated with this immense Azores High, which is sprawling across an area from the Canaries to approximately 1,000 miles to the East of the West Indies.
Coville won’t hit the desired westerly wind under the depression until he’s out of this transition zone. As such – although he’s positioned just 2,800 miles from Brest, level with the Cape Verde archipelago – he can see his chances of beating Francis Joyon’s record (57d 13h 34′) slipping away.
“When you look at the cartography you must be wondering where on earth I’m going!” he said. “To the West Indies? To New York? No, I fully intend to return to Brest but the weather has decided not to let me take the most direct route.”
“After Cape Cap Horn, when we thought that the hardest part was behind us, we traced a superb wake, but it was entirely upwind, going into heavy and very difficult seas. The boat and I were really put to the test but we got a sense of pride when we managed to get ahead of Francis Joyon’s course again, after amassing such a deficit in the other three oceans. For a moment I believed that I’d have a classic weather scenario to ascend the Brazilian coast and enter the northern hemisphere, but it was nothing of the sort.
“After having endured a very difficult and stormy low to the North of Brazil, which killed the SE’ly tradewinds, we remained in light, unusual conditions off the horn of South America. Right now, it’s an enormous zone of high pressure which is preventing us from hooking onto the disturbed circuit of W and SW’ly wind, the same system that is supposed to carry us back towards Europe. That means that I’ll have to make a massive detour to the West so I can hunt down the appropriate breeze a long way ahead of this disturbance.”
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