Six-hundred and sixty-eight nautical miles (1237km) — that is the new 24-hour distance record for a boat skippered by a solo sailor. French record chaser Francis Joyon set this new outright 24-hour speed record on July 31, aboard his 29m maxi trimaran IDEC. He achieved an average speed of 27.83kts, pending ratification from the World Speed Sailing Record Council.
Joyon set off from la Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany for the Azores to look for ideal conditions to tackle the record set by Thomas Coville, who sailed 628.5nm in 2008 on his second attempt at the round-the-world record, still held by Joyon.
“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,” said Joyon
“So I headed off around 800 miles west of Cape Finisterre (Spain), on the edge of the Azores high. I set off with a southwesterly 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 32kts. It was extremely risky. The boat was constantly on the edge.
“I wasn’t at the helm. I stayed 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,” Joyon explained.
With peak speeds of 34kts, the sailor from Locmariaquer added another achievement to his long list of successful records.
Joyon is a former record holder of the 24-hour speed distance record. He took the reference time to 613.5nm (average speed of 25.56kts) during his successful round-the-world record attempt in 2007. Coville then grabbed the record from him the following year covering 619nm at an average speed of 25.80kts near the Kerguelens (Indian Ocean). Coville aboard his 32m trimaran then beat his own record, sailing 628.5nm at 26.2kts in December 2008.
“I would have been happy to beat this record by just a few miles", added Joyon. “But (by) 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,” he said.
Photos: Spray flying, the maxi trimaran IDEC races to a new 24-hour distance record. (Photo © JM Liot/DPPI/IDEC); Francis Joyon adds yet another record to his impressive list of sailing achievements. (Photo by F. Van Malleghem/DPPI/IDEC)
Francis Joyon’s other achievements
2010: 2nd in the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale
2009: 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
2008: 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)
2007: English Channel record with a time of 6 hours, 23 minutes and 36 seconds (record still holds)