Route du Rhum race favourite?

Thierry Martinez / & Co
The fastest singlehanded sailor on the planet Sodebo skipper Thomas Coville discusses his campaign
Thomas Coville and his 105ft trimaran Sodebo will set out from St Malo on the Route du Rhum in 12 days time as one of the favourites in the Ultimate Class, the new anything-goes multihull division in France’s most historic of singlehanded ocean races. For Coville is one of the most successful solo offshore sailors. He currently holds the record for the west to east crossing of the North Atlantic with a time of 5 days 19 hours and 30 minutes, and he is also the fastest solo offshore sailor on the planet having managed 628.5 nm in 24 hours at an average speed of 26.2 knots. He has also huge credentials in crewed multihull sailing - he was lapped the planet with Oliver de Kersauson on board Sport Elec in the Jules Verne Trophy and was also with Franck Cammas on Groupama 3 when she set the current Jules Verne Trophy record this spring. Yet Coville is relatively rare among French offshore multihull sailors in having a long background in monohull racing, having previously competed in the America's Cup in 1995 aboard France 2 and 3, as well as in Sydney-Hobarts and Kenwood Cups, in the Vendee Globe when he finished sixth in 2000 and in the Volvo Ocean Race, having sailed a leg of the 2000-1 event with Knut Frostad's djuice dragons. In short there can be few other sailors who have ticked as many boxes in our diverse sport as he has. Coville is extremely enthusiastic about the prospect of lining up with the other boats in the Ultimate Class. “I think we are back to the first idea of the Route du Rhum which Mr Etevenon created – that everyone can come to the Route du Rhum and the first guy who crosses the line is the winner and