Sodebo off Rio

But a large area of high pressure and light wind is parked directly ahead of her

Monday January 27th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

This morning finds Thomas Coville and Sodebo at the latitude of Rio, still just about in the hunt on their attempt to break Francis Joyon and IDEC 2's solo non-stop round the world record.

Sodebo passed Recife on Saturday mid-afternoon and her skipper has since been forced to put in a few gybes to stay in the optimum wind conditions. Shortly before the 0930 sched this morning, Sodebo had put in another gybe back to the SSE.

Time Lat Long Speed     Crs Dist DTF v IDEC
      Av VMG 24hrs   24hrs    
27/01/2014 09:00 21 40.94 'S 32 41.09 'W 13.8 13.5 23.7 143 ° 323.4 nm 19321.8 -249.98
27/01/2014 07:00 21 08.71 'S 32 45.24 'W 20 13.4 24 184 ° 334.8 nm 19346.5 -244.3
27/01/2014 05:00 20 32.27 'S 32 45.51 'W 18.4 11.1 23.8 188 ° 342.7 nm 19371.8 -237.57
27/01/2014 03:00 19 49.32 'S 32 40.91 'W 17.8 13.8 23.5 172 ° 352.1 nm 19398.6 -233.77
27/01/2014 01:00 19 05.70 'S 32 31.90 'W 25.7 9.6 22.9 204 ° 358.3 nm 19423.5 -235.66

As mentioned previously, the outbound south Atlantic section of this round the world record attempt will be the hardest for Coville and his team for here Joyon was able to break east early and 'cut the corner', reducing the amount of miles he had to sail dramatically. This is best shown on the chart above where IDEC 2's track is marked in blue and indicates how he speared off to the southeast at this stage. Already Sodebo is 250 miles astern of IDEC's record pace and this could easily increase to more than 1000 miles over the next 48 hours.

Throughout the last day, Coville has been forced to maintain a track to the west of IDEC's and approaching the latitude of Rio he is some 380 miles west - this figure is going to grow over the following few days as he attempts to negotiate the St Helena high.

At present there are two areas of high pressure due south of Sodebo. The big red tri is on the northern perifery of the more northerly of these, but so far it doesn't seem to have made too much difference to her speed, still averaging around 18 knots and making better VMG now she is 'pointing at the mark'.

The GFS forecast is not too positive. The more northerly area of high pressure is showing next to no wind and is around 430 miles north to south. On a brighter note once through this, assume he sails due south at 30°W (it looks as though he will be unable to get any further east than this before he passes into the Roaring Forties), Coville should be able to key straight into the favourable winds on the western side of the second high (the more southerly of the two currently). However he then stands a good chance of being able to ride the front associated with a small but intense depression edging east out of the mouth of the River Plate (between Argentina and Uruguay) tomorrow night.

Yesterday router Thierry Briend summed up what Coville was going through: "Change from the Solent to the staysail, reef the mainsail, sail changes every five minutes, to try to always have the best settings for the wind - Thomas has been wondering when he can close his eyes, The anticyclone is positioned so far south that the trade winds are still really disturbed. It's not easy to go at regular speeds in these conditions, but Thomas is working well."

But the anticyclone ahead is causing the routing team more concern, the Météo France synoptic charts showing a big black circle with 1015 mB all around it and precious little gradient breeze. In short, a glass out...

"The wind will start to weaken on Monday and especially on Tuesday," warns Briend. "This will be a challenging part where Francis was still making 20 knots on the direct course. Sot the delta will naturally grow and we're going to have to stay calm and hope this part is very quickly behind Sodebo's transom."

Image above courtesy of Expedition and PredictWind.

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