Around the world in eight days was published by Jules Verne in 1873 and inspired sailors to create one of the greatest ocean adventures of modern times, the Jules Verne Trophy. Since the first attempts in the winter of 1993, the crewed round the world record has attracted a lot of interest. Far from being over, it already has a rich history. By taking part in his first crewed record attempt, Francis Joyon could well write a new chapter in this saga…
It is one of Jules Verne’s most famous novels, written in 1872 and published in 1873. Around the world in Eighty Days tells the story of the adventures of an English gentleman, Phileas Fogg, who took up the crazy challenge of getting around the world in eighty days or less. To achieve that, he was able to use any form of transport he wanted including sailing… After a series of incredible adventures, he returned to London five minutes under eighty days after setting out. More than a century after the book was published, this classic of French literature would become the source of inspiration for a group of sailors, starting with Yves Le Cornec, who in 1984 wanted to refit the William Saurin, Eugène Riguidel’s giant trimaran to attempt to sail around the world in less than eighty days. But the project didn’t take off due to a lack of funding. In 1989, thirteen sailors tackled the first edition of the Vendée Globe Challenge, the non-stop solo round the world race on monohulls. Titouan Lamazou won the event after 109 days and 8 hours. Which tempted others to launch projects to sail around the world on a multihull and follow in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg… If it could be done in 109 days on a monohull, 80 days on a multihull looked possible…
It all began on a barge in Paris
On 13th August 1990, Yvon Fauconnier invited a few friends to his barge in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris. Among those present there was Titouan Lamazou, Florence Arthaud, Bruno and Loïck Peyron, Jean-Yves Terlain, the New Zealander, Peter Blake and the British sailor, Robin Knox-Johnston. Together, they came up with the basis for the Jules Verne Trophy defining the course as a round the world race via the three capes: Good Hope, Leeuwin and the Horn. The start and finishing line were to be the Créac’h Lighthouse on Ushant, and the Lizard Lighthouse at the south-western tip of Britain.
Three pioneering crews
In the winter of 92/93, three crews took up the challenge. The first to set off was Olivier de Kersauson as the pathfinder when he left the Brest roadstead behind, but he didn’t respect the course defined by his friends three years earlier. The crews, one skippered by Bruno Peyron and the other by Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston, headed for the start zone as laid down in the instructions and set off with a gap of seven hours between them. Off Cape Town, Kersauson hit a growler and saw his hopes vanish. The two others continued to do battle. In the Indian Ocean, the British / New Zealand led crew hit a UFO and they too were forced out of the race. Bruno Peyron and his men found themselves racing against the clock and kept going in spite of an epic rounding of the Horn (with 70-knot winds). On Tuesday 20th April 1993, they crossed the finishing line after 79 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes and 46 seconds of racing to become the first holders of the Jules Verne Trophy and in so doing went through the eighty day barrier.
Peyron does it again and again
Wanting to gain their revenge, Robin Knox-Johnston and Peter Blake set off again in January 1994 and completed the course in 74 days 22 hours 17 minutes and 22 seconds, improving by more than 4 days on Bruno Peyron’s reference time. Olivier de Kersauson went on to complete the course in 77 days. Remaining determined, he sailed his trimaran Sport-Elec in two successive campaigns in 1995 and 1996, but he didn’t manage to beat the record. However, Kersauson set off again in 1997 and this time saw his name on the Trophy with a time of 71 days 14 hours 22 minutes and 8 seconds. In 2002, we were able to look forward to a duel between Peyron and Kersauson. The former set off aboard Orange (32m maxi-trimaran) but was forced to return several hours later. Aboard Geronimo, Kersauson continued on his way but was forced to retire off Brazil. Meanwhile, Orange was repaired and was able to set sail again. 64 days 8 hours 37 minutes and 24 seconds later, Bruno Peyron became the first two times winner of the Jules Verne Trophy.
In 2003, Ellen MacArthur and Olivier de Kersauson, once again, gave it a try, but in vain… In 2004, we saw another duel between Peyron and Kersauson. The second improved on the reference time finishing in 63 days 13 hours 59 minutes and 46 seconds. The first to cross the Atlantic in less than 5 days aboard Cheyenne, the American, Steve Fossett improved on this performance in 2004 by sailing around the world in 58 days 9 hours 32 minutes and 45 seconds. But this feat was not recognised, as Cheyenne had set off on the Jules Verne Trophy route without paying the registration fees. A year later, Bruno Peyron’s response was unequivocal. He shattered the previous record by completing the course in 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes and 4 seconds on Orange II. The bar was placed very high and many people thought the record would remain in place for a long time…
Franck Cammas on his third attempt
But that was forgetting Franck Cammas, who in 2004 announced the launch of a 31.5m maxi trimaran designed specifically for the Jules Verne Trophy. Groupama 3 is in fact none other than Francis Joyon’s new IDEC SPORT. Launched in June 2006, this mighty record hunter began her first campaign in the winter of 2007/2008. At a point when they were one day ahead of Orange II’s reference time, Franck Cammas and his men capsized off New Zealand. The men were safe and sound and the Groupama 3 platform was brought back to France. That was not going to stop Cammas, who set off again in November 2008 but this time the adventure came to a sudden end in the South Atlantic when the link between the rear beam and the port float broke. It was going to be third time lucky. On 31st January 2010, Cammas gave it another go, in spite of uncertain weather. A decision that paid off as 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds after setting sail, the skipper and his crew of nine grabbed the Jules Verne Trophy.
Loïck Peyron in 45 days – the record to beat
In that very same year another boat decided to wait for a better weather opportunity to get going, but the opening never appeared. Banque Populaire V, the world’s biggest ocean racing trimaran measuring 40m in length and with a mast towering 45m skywards. So it was with a highly motivated crew on Banque Populaire V, skippered by Pascal Bidégorry, that they made their first attempt on 22nd January 2011. But on the thirteenth day of racing, a collision with a UFO put paid to Bidégorry and his crew’s hopes. Later in 2011, a new skipper was appointed, Loïck Peyron. With a crew of thirteen, who knew the boat perfectly, they set off on 22nd November and achieved an incredible time: 45 days 13 hours 22 minutes and 53 seconds! 22 years after the initial reference time was set by Bruno Peyron, the Jules Verne was back in the Peyron family. It is this time that Francis Joyon and his men are aiming to beat this winter on IDEC SPORT.
Joyon and Guichard just miss out
In the winter of 2015-2016. three years after Loïck Peyron,everyone developed a new passion for round the world record attempts. Everything was slotting into place fro an exceptional adventure. Francis Joyon, the solo round the world record holder decided to switch to crewed racing and with a crew of just six men. But also this attempt woulmd see two record-breaking boats going head to head. IDEC SPORT was the ’ex Groupama 3 skippered by Franck Cammas, the winner in 2010 while Spindrift, sailed by Yann Guichard and a crew of twice the size was Loïck Peyron’s former Banque Populaire, the title holder.A 30m boat against a 40m one, David against Goliath. It was extremely close. After smashing the Indian Ocean Record, Francis Joyon’s men sailed for a long time within sight of Yann Guichard sending back photos that have entered the legend of ocean racing. There were photos and films of a huge iceberg, spotted by the crew of IDEC SPORT. But conditions in the final part of the Pacific and the climb back up the Atlantic were not favourable. In the end, the two crerws completed the voyage in 47 days, just four hours apart, but they needed to do two days better than that to take Loïck Peyron’s record. Achieving the second and third best time ever and berating the boat’s record in the case of IDEC SPORT, was not enough. They are going to have to go for it again. Less than a year later IDEC SPORT is setting off again with the very same crew. This group of friends decided at the end of their trip to do it again and now that is about to be the case. Another adventure lies ahead, a sporting, human and extreme one.
Jules Verne Trophy record times
1993 : Bruno Peyron on Commodore Explorer – Catamaran – 79d 6h 15min 56s
1994 : Peter Blake and Robin Knox-Johnston on Enza – Catamaran – 74d 22h 17min 22s
1997 : Olivier de Kersauson on Sport Elec – Trimaran – 71d 14h 22min 8s
2002 : Bruno Peyron on Orange – Catamaran – 64d 8h 37min 24s
2004 : Olivier de Kersauson on Geronimo – Trimaran – 63d 14h 59min 46s
2004 : Steve Fossett on Cheyenne – Catamaran – 58d 9 h 32 min 45 s
2005 : Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 – Catamaran – 50d 16h 20min 4s
2010 : Franck Cammas on Groupama 3 – Trimaran – 48d 7h 44min 52s
2012: Loïck Peyron on the Maxi Banque Populaire V – Trimaran – 45d 13h 42min 53s
Time to beat: 45 days 13 hours 42 minutes and 53 seconds
The latest times
2016 : Yann Guichard on Spindrift – Trimaran – 47 d, 10 hrs and 59 minutes. 2nd best time ever
2016 : Francis Joyon on IDEC SPORT – Trimaran – 47 days 14 hrs and 47 minutes. 3rd best time ever