FRANCIS JOYON SMASHES THE 24 HOUR SOLO SAILING RECORD
Wednesday 1st August 2012
668 nautical miles. 1237 kilometres. That is the new 24 hour distance record for a boat skippered by a solo sailor. The French sailor Francis Joyon set this new outright 24 hour speed record yesterday evening aboard his 29-metre giant trimaran IDEC achieving an average speed of 27.83 knots.*
Francis Joyon set off from la Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany last Friday to head for the Azores to look for ideal conditions to tackle the record set by Thomas Coville, who sailed 628.5 nautical miles in 2008 on his second attempt at the round the world record, still held by Francis.
“I had to look for the ideal conditions, which I only managed to find before in the Indian Ocean with steady, strong winds, preferably ahead of a front , in order to benefit from relatively calm seas… So I headed off around 800 miles west of Cape Finisterre, on the edge of the Azores high. I set off with a south-westerly wind, but from the start I had to deal with a swell coming in the other direction from the north.
I gave it my all and after a certain length of time, the swell eased off and the wind strengthened to 32 knots. It was extremely risky. The boat was constantly on the edge. I wasn’t at the helm. I stayed there for 24 hours standing in the cockpit with the mainsail sheet in one hand and the solent sheet in the other. When the boat dug into a wave, I eased off one or the other. But I often had to ease them both off at the same time. There was no rest. I just swallowed down a few cereal bars to feed myself.”
These words from Joyon himself sum up the scenario and how he achieved this special record. With peak speeds of 34 knots, the sailor from Locmariaquer has added another item to his long list of successful records. In 2004 he previously held the record aboard his former IDEC trimaran.
He took the reference time to 613.5 miles (average speed of 25.56 knots) during his successful round the world record attempt in 2007. Thomas Coville then grabbed the record from him in the following year covering 619 miles at an average speed of 25.80 knots near the Kerguelens. The very same Thomas Coville aboard his 32-metre trimaran then beat his own record, sailing 628.5 miles at 26.2 knots in December 2008.
“I would have been happy to beat this record by just a few miles”, added Francis. “But almost 40 miles! I’m over the moon. I’m particularly pleased as I haven’t sailed that much since capsizing last year during my transatlantic record attempt. IDEC underwent a lot of decent work in the yard during the winter. But the mast is the same one that broke in half, when she capsized. As for the sails, they are the original ones, which have already clocked up 90,000 miles. Going beyond the numbers, I was able to enjoy a truly magical moment. Being able to sail such a machine and get the full potential out of her is extraordinary. That’s what I kept telling myself, as I zoomed by cargo ships sending the spray flying.”
*(Awaiting ratification from the World Speed Sailing Record Council)
Extract from Francis Joyon’s list of achievements:
- 2nd in the Route du Rhum – La Banque Postale
- Record between France and Mauritius with a time of 26 days 4 hours 13 minutes and 29 seconds (initial reference time)
- Winner of the Round Belle-Ile Race
- Columbus Route record with a time of 9 days 20 hours 35 minutes and 3 seconds (record still holds)
- Outright solo round the world record with a time of 57 days 13 hours 34 minutes and 6 seconds (record still holds)
- English Channel record with a time of 6 hours, 23 minutes and 36 seconds (record still holds)