They’re off and the start of the most amazing global match race has begun. In the dead of night this past Sunday morning off the north coast of France two of the fastest and most amazing sailboats on this planet took off to lap the planet in an effort to break the non-stop circumnavigation record currently held by Loick Peyron and his crew aboard Banque Populaire V. The first to go was IDEC Sport skippered by Francis Joyon. At 02:02:22 GMT IDEC Sport crossed an imaginary start line that runs from the Créac’h lighthouse on Ile de Oessant (Ushant Island) to Lizard Point on the southwest corner of England. This imaginary line has served as the start of the Jules Verne Trophy since it’s inception in 1990 and the same line will serve as the finish line. It’s hard to believe but if the crew of IDEC Sport are successful in their mission they will be back just as the new year starts.

Just under two hours after IDEC Sport took off Yann Guichard and his crew on Spindrift 2 crossed the same imaginary line in search of the same record. In order to be successful both boats need to be back by late in the day January 6, 2016. The time to beat is 45 days, 13 hours, 22 minutes, and 53 seconds and was set in 2012. Spindrift 2 is the same boat that holds the record but in new livery and a refit for this almost impossible quest. They will need more than good weather to beat the time; they will need a whole lot of luck. There are so many potential pitfalls on the 25,000 mile course from floating containers to submerged ice to extremes in weather from the heat of the tropics to the bone chilling cold of the Southern Ocean.

The wind was out of the north blowing around 10 knots when both boats set off. “We don’t have much wind at the moment, just 8 to 10 knots,” said Yann Guichard shortly after they started. “The sea conditions are not easy because there is a strong current but the wind will pick up in strength. So it’s a steady start at 15-18 knots.” The breeze is expected to build to around 30 knots and the sea state to even out, a perfect way to get underway.

The first ten days will be critical. Both teams have studied the weather in minute detail to pick the very best time to start. They will need to slingshot out of there across the Bay of Biscay and past the doldrums and equator into the Southern Hemisphere. If they are not ahead of, or at least close to where Banque Populaire V was there may not be any need to continue. It’s hard to make up time and Loick Peyron himself attributed the success of there record attempt to great weather and a lot of good luck.

In under three days both boats have covered over 1,800 miles at an average speed of 30 knots. At last check both IDEC Sport and Spindrift 2 were separated by just a few miles and both boats were just under 200 miles ahead of where Banque Populaire V was at the same time into their journey.

To me it seems as if the record could well be broken. In past attempts the boats have been racing an imaginary ship; these two boats are going to be going head to head pushing each other every inch of the way. There is nothing like a physical boat on the horizon ahead to stir competitive spirit. In any event it’s going to be a clash of titans to wrap up what’s been an amazing year of open ocean racing. Bon chance to both boats. We are looking forward to some spectacular racing. Most of all be safe.

You can track the progress of each boat – Spindrift Racing and  IDEC Sport .