Put down
the transmitter

Taking time out from preparing for the 2016 Vendée Globe, round the world skipper and professional routeur Conrad Colman explains why directing a 40kt trimaran around the globe remains a very personal task…

I dec Sport and Spindrift 2’s recent attempts at the Trophée Jules Verne kept many sailors engrossed over the long (interminable – ed) Christmas break, peeking at race trackers through the mistletoe. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away from the firehose spray and cold fingers curled in a death grip on the steering wheels a quieter, but no less intense, challenge played out in the offices of the world’s best weather routers.

Names like Jean-Yves Bernot, Sylvain Mondon, Bill Biewenga and Marcel van Triest make up the elite cadre of mathematicians, meteorologists and former professional navigators who today guide the world’s fastest yachts. Given the small size of this group these meteo mercenaries all know each other’s histories and personal characters from decades of navigating with wet feet and bad food onboard.

The revolving door also applies to their clientele; this winter Jean-Yves Bernot routed Spindrift 2, the old Banque Populaire V routed by Marcel van Triest in 2012 who is now routing Idec Sport which is skippered by Francis Joyon who was routed by Jean-Yves on his own recordbreaking solo circumnavigation in 2008…

Firstly, Jean-Yves wants to clear up one common misconception about offshore routers: they are not playing an elaborate game of Virtual Regatta with radio-controlled 40m offshore trimarans. Despite this, when I had the good fortune to intern with him during last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre I sometimes watched his already wild hair suffer anew when the hourly positions refreshed and he obviously wished that the autopilot controls their wind data back to their router’s office.

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