Round-the-world skipper Thomas Coville has his mind on breakages

Thomas Coville’s shore-based team announced that there was no time to lose if the solo skipper didn’t want to see the door to Saint Helena slam shut. Therefore Thomas has allowed his trimaran to hurtle across the ocean along a circuit more reminiscent of an off-road rally than a formula 1 track.

This type of sailing represents hours and hours of stress – wondering whether it’ll be the skipper or the boat that will be the first to break. You only have to read emails from the Vendée Globe racers to understand what all the sailors are going through as they tackle the section of the southern Atlantic situated off Brazil.

Belting along at over 20 knots, Thomas recounted late last night that he couldn’t even write: “Lifted by a fresh, unsettled tradewind, the seas are so short that the boat is constantly taking off? I can’t click on the mouse? but I’m preventing myself from slowing up, even beam on to the wind with the seas on the nose? with each minute that passes your mind is on breakage? you think about it the whole time? you’re not allowed to have any doubts? it’ll take however long it takes”.

Commentators have wondered what makes men and women systematically pass to the west of Saint Helena, as it greatly increases the distance travelled and doesn’t guarantee them downwind conditions – as we can see. But they don’t really have much of a choice as to pass further east would mean facing light winds. Of course the route is shorter, over 1,000 miles, but the risk that it would be so much slower is simply unthinkable.

After 12 days at sea and a physical and stressful descent of the southern Atlantic, Sodeb’O has once again proven the extent of its power and speed. After all these days of rodeo riding, the skipper has only a broken batten to lament and since this morning, Thomas has been able to put some easting into his course. He is set to benefit from some increasingly manageable conditions to perform a thorough check of the boat and change the nine metre long batten. At that point he will hit the roaring forties and that is quite another story.

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