Early this morning, Francis Joyon added another line to his long list of successes, beating by 49 minutes his own North Atlantic solo record, set in June 2013 aboard his previous 29m trimaran, IDEC. This week he achieved this latest success aboard the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran, the same VPLP designed boat that last winter smashed the Jules Verne Trophy crewed round the world record. For his first solo Atlantic crossing aboard a boat initially designed for twelve sailors, he has improved on the time for the legendary crossing between New York and The Lizard. He did this the Joyon way without any preparation beforehand, no stand-by period or sophisticated routing, just using his talent, determination and his ability at the age of 61 to push that bit harder when sailing solo aboard a multihull.
By crossing the longitude of The Lizard, which is the historic finish line for the North Atlantic record from Ambrose Light in New York at 0137 hrs UTC this morning, Francis Joyon has beaten his own record by 49 minutes. Subect to ratification by the World Speed Sailing Record Council, his new time of 5 days, 2 hours and 7 minutes will enter the history books. “I only just did it,” declared the sailor from Locmariaquer in Brittany after an exhausting night with a lot of manoeuvres and gybes to get to the southernmost tip of mainland Britain. “I was pleased to finish, as over the past 24 hours, it has been very tiring,” added the King of the Atlantic. “My autopilots weren’t working well, so I had to stay at the helm all the time over the past 24 hours, while carrying out manoeuvres in a lot of squalls with the boat slamming into the seas.”
At the age of 61, Francis Joyon has pulled off another major physical and sporting achievement in a context, which is unprecedented for such a major record. “I set off from New York in a hurry,” he stressed. “I didn’t even have time to sort out the supplies. I just bought some eggs and bananas. As for the food on board, the lads ate it all during the crossing in The Bridge 2017.”
There was no long term search for the perfect weather opportunity with the help of professional routers. Joyon made do with what the Atlantic threw at him from Thursday evening (6th July). “The weather wasn’t that good on the first day and I had to tack upwind. But on the following day a system became established. I could see the Queen Mary 2 setting off for Europe. I said to myself that as we didn’t manage to beat her on the way out from Saint-Nazaire, maybe I could finish in Brittany before she docked in Southampton. (She is due in tomorrow morning – editor’s note). I entered the spirit of the competition and went on the attack. I spent two days sailing at over 30 knots all the time. I was worried about what it looked like approaching Europe, as there was a NE’ly wind. But the Azores high moved slightly further north allowing me to enter the English Channel with SW’ly winds.”
Setting off in a hurry from New York, Joyon was only just discovering his maxi trimaran IDEC SPORT. “I made a few mistakes hoisting the gennaker in particular, as I had got used to relying on some fantastic sailors in the Jules Verne Trophy. In fact, it was a bit like going back to school to learn the alphabet all over again. Fortunately the boat reacted kindly, even at thirty knots.”
Pleased with the outcome, Francis Joyon will be grabbing a few minutes sleep this morning, while heading for his home port of La Trinité sur Mer (Brittany), which he hopes to reach as quickly as possible.