Maxi-trimaran heads up South American coast

The maxi-trimaran Sodeb’O is making fast headway along the Argentinean coast pushed by a favourable S/ SW’ly breeze, though both the skipper and the boat are feeling the strain as they sail head on into the swell in a bid to break the record for sailng non-stop round the world.

Sailing conditions should soon improve enabling skipper Thomas Coville to further reduce his deficit on Francis Joyon. Since Sunday evening and the passage around Cape Horn, Sodeb’O has made up nearly 400 miles on Joyon’s trimaran record board Idec – with a total deficit two days ago of 900 miles – or two to three days’ sailing, according to the winds.

Thomas admitted a certain fatigue after ten days or so of particularly testing times in a hostile South Pacific “where you are not welcome and where despite the brutal, violent beauty, you’re happy to come out the other side”. Living in another world for the past 43 days, the skipper of Sodeb’O recognised that he hadn’t yet got his head around the fact that he is one of the few sailors to have single-handedly circumnavigated Antarctica in a multihull.

Extracts from the radio session recorded with Thomas Coville today:

After Cape Horn it wasn’t an easy night at all. Right now I’m between two systems and two swell patterns, which are very unsettled and very difficult to negotiate. I’m trying to carry as much sail aloft as possible, so naturally there are some points where it’s very risky and full-on. I’m trying to stay with a S/SW’ly air flow which is carrying us along the coast of Argentina. The seas are choppy and very big, which is throwing the boat round a lot making it hard to get her stable. The weather’s fairly good. The sun’s out and the temperatures have increased considerably over the past couple of days, which is an important point because it means that I’m no longer having to battle against the cold. A few days ago I rounded the Horn and I hadn’t realised that I was in the thick of the action. I only became aware of that 24 hours after passing the famous rock due to sense of deliverance that it represents. I woke up and all of a sudden I realised that I was no longer fearful of the ice, the icebergs and the cold.

The Saint Helena High which caused us so much trouble on the way down is something we’re trying to negotiate in a slightly better configuration. If we manage to hook onto this system, we’ll make it to the equator just behind Francis, which may very well get us back in the saddle for the next stage in the record attempt. — translation by Kate Jennings