The window closes back up, return to standby to ready for the next one!
At noon yesterday, following a weather briefing with their router Marcel van Triest, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier knew that their chances of setting sail in the coming hours to take on the challenge of the Jules Verne Trophy were slender, not to say miniscule: we reckon we have a 5% chance of a departure tomorrow, but this percentage may double from one grib file to the next or crumble away to nothing, so we need to give it a go and leave ourselves a few extra hours to come to a decision, explained the sailor originally from Aix-en-Provence. Unfortunately, the patience of the six crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and all the team supporting them in their bid has not been rewarded, for now at least! Indeed, though the standby period devoted to the quest for the legendary record began in earnest some two months ago, with one attempt cut short in late November after the boat collided with a UFO (unidentified floating object), the men of Gitana Team still have over a month and a half for their plans to come to fruition so they can try to depose Francis Joyon and his crew on Idec Sport, the current holders of the trophy with a time of 40 days 23 hours and 30 minutes.

None of the three criteria met

The six sailors on the flying maxi-trimaran could picture themselves turning the page on 2020 at sea. Ultimately though, that’s not how things are set to play out! The narrow window being targeted over the past few days contains too many areas of uncertainty for only small gains, namely a series of intermediate passage times, which are simply too far off the mark targeted by the team.  
“At noon yesterday, the probabilities were very slender but possible. We knew that the North Atlantic would not improve, but there was still a hope that the south would be worth the effort. The latest grib file forecasts we have at our disposal showed no notable improvement. The passage times to the equator are much longer than what we’re after: from 5 days 18 hours to 6 days 10 hours, compared with the 4 days 15 hours that we could reasonably target with a decent window. On top of the rather uninviting weather, the route to get there appeared to be rather difficult to implement with a predominantly coastal route full of pitfalls as a result of the string of islands to be negotiated. Added to that now is the fact that in the south, the transition we would have to hook onto if we were to quickly make our way down to the austral latitudes can no longer be taken for granted seemingly. It is too random and there is not enough certainty for us to try our luck with this window. These comings and goings are part and parcel of record attempts…” explained the co-skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschildwho has managed to put things into perspective but is naturally disappointed at the prospect of remaining dockside for a few more days. 

Keen not to spoil their chances

There was a great deal of discussion as the stakes were high, however the decision was unanimous! “We stand a chance of having a better window than this one. It’s never an easy decision to return to standby, but we mustn’t spoil our chances of breaking the record by setting sail on a poorly timed attempt. We’re all eager to be able to set off and show what we’re made of on this course, which makes the waiting around drag on somewhat… Furthermore, it isn’t the simplest of weather this year. From the start, we’ve had to contend with a rather atypical North Atlantic for the season. There are low-pressure systems dropping a long way south and rolling towards the Azores and to the west of the Canaries. This particular weather configuration makes our task more complicated because we frequently have favourable situations for leaving the north-west tip of Brittany, but with them comes a break in the trade wind system in the northern hemisphere, which seriously hampers our drag race towards the southern latitudes…” concluded Franck Cammas, recently elected Sailor of the Decade by the French Sailing Federation (FFV).

At this stage of their Jules Verne Trophy standby, the men of Gitana 17 have to be particularly vigilant to ensure that their decision is not made too hastily, as Charles Caudrelier explained: with the end of standby approaching, we cannot allow ourselves to set off on a simple trial run, it has to be the one!”

Jules Verne Trophy memo:

Crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild:

Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, skippers
David Boileau, trimmer bowman
Erwan Israël, helm trimmer
Morgan Lagravière, helm trimmer
Yann Riou, trimmer media man

Marcel van Triest, weather router
Yann Eliès, replacement crew

Record to beat:

40 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes > Record held by Francis Joyon and his crew (Idec Sport) since 26 January 2017.

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