This Pacific crossing will end with an objective reached: that of considerably improving on the current record time. Of course, the time we're going to set will be broken someday, but it certainly won't be easy. It is worth pointing out that this crossing cannot be sailed along the great circle route, that is the shortest distance between San Francisco and Yokohama (4,482 miles). Due to the roundness of the earth, this theoretical route would shave the Aleutians, a string of islands which separate the Pacific from the Bering Sea. These islands, which bar access to the north, save via some narrow channels, prevent boats getting to the right side of the lows (via the north). An added hazard of passing through this remote zone is the possible icebergs and growlers. All this is a far cry from an Atlantic record attempt, where the latest victorious attempts have followed very similar routes, to within a handful of miles of the theoretical (direct) route.
The challenge therefore is to adopt a route which is ‘meteorologically' achievable, whilst trying to cover the least number of miles possible. With what is always a precious collaboration with Sylvain Mondon, this is what we've undertaken. The challenge is complicated given the immensity of this ocean. Although just a single weather system is in play on an Atlantic crossing, here it's a very different picture. We've had to negotiate two lows: one at the start, the other at the finish. Between the two there were no less than three zones of high pressure which we had to deal with, with 'crazy' passages thrown in each time we slipped from one to the other. A huge amount of parameters come into play and the smooth running of the operation can falter at the slightest snag. As regards distance, we'll have actually covered 5,633 miles, a figure which takes into account the 100 miles still separating us from the finish at the moment where I write these lines (1700 UT). As a result we'll have covered 1,152 miles more than on the theoretical (direct) route. Our actual average speed will then be around 21.33 knots along the ground. If these figures don't appear on the WSSRC texts, it is they that will be closely examined by the future pretenders to the record.
As for life aboard, it will be said that we did the essentials, namely eating, sleeping (when that was possible) and being on deck. There wasn't a lot of embellishment in our schedule, Gitana 13 leaving us speechless with its capacity to take a pounding. Not a single piece of damage suffice to say. Even though we were never over the limit, quite the contrary in fact with a fine safety margin at times, Captain Lionel certainly imposed a fast pace. He lets nothing pass him by. Sailing alongside him, you immediately understand why he left all his adversaries in his wake in the Route du Rhum 2006.
See you soon