Joyon smashes record
Francis Joyon, skipper of the maxi trimaran IDEC, crossed the Route of Discovery finishing line off San Salvador in the Bahamas at 04:57:30 GMT today.
With a course time of 8 days, 16 hours, 07 minutes, 05 seconds, Joyon has impressively shaved 1 day, 4 hours, 27 minutes and 58 seconds off his own record of 9 days 20 hrs 35 mins, set back in 2008.
Over the 3884 mile long Great Circle route, Joyon sailed an average speed of 18.66 knots, although the distance he actually sailed was 4379.5 miles at an average speed of 21.04 knots.
Joyon and IDEC left Cadiz, Spain at 12:50:25 GMT on Wednesday 6 February.
“I was interested by the weather opportunity I could see when I left La Trinité sur Mer,” Joyon explained, “remembering that Thomas (Coville) would be the first to make the most of it. Since the autumn, I have been following the weather patterns in the Atlantic, and this opportunity was clearly the finest that we have had for months.”
It should also be noted that Joyon carried out this record without the use of third party weather routing. For The Jean-Yves Bernot, who usually routes Joyon from dry land during his records, had gone off to the other side of the world.
“It would have been during that initial phase that Jean-Yves’s help would have been the most useful.”
With heavy seas and a northeasterly wind tending too much to come directly from astern, there was an effect on the boat’s performance and it was 170 miles off the record pace that IDEC finally made her escape from the wind shadow of Gran Canaria.
“I didn’t have any doubts at that point,” stated Joyon, “as I knew I would be able to take advantage of a favourable trade wind after that.”
Indeed, there followed four fantastic days covering more than 500 miles a day. Four days of pleasure that even the understated Joyon could not avoid sounding happy about, telling us how he enjoyed getting the most out of his giant trimaran, despite the swell being at times very heavy and in the wrong direction. “I really love these moments, when the boat sails along quickly and effortlessly, in some brilliant light, and I have experienced many great moments like that.”
Joyon observes that the weathre experienced on the Route of Discovery to typically more complicated than that of the west to east North Atlantic record course from New York to the Lziard.
“A record pace from New York to the Lizard is achieved ahead of just one system that is clear and going in the right direction, so needs to be followed all the way to Ireland. The Route of Discovery on the other hand is very complicated; you cannot only rely on one system. You have to change systems three times, which automatically involves tricky transitional phases.”
Joyon knows that his record will be targeted by many others, and that is something he is happy about: “I think I have placed the bar quite high up,” he admitted, “I hope the record will stand for a while and that my future challengers will enjoy themselves…
“My immediate reaction is one of huge satisfaction… and tiredness. I haven’t yet come to terms with it, as I’m still sailing, but the pleasure of completing the voyage in less than nine days is obvious. I set off hoping to set a decent time. I got off to a quick start back in 2008, but the end was much harder. This year, it was the other way around. My biggest fear is always getting stuck in an area of calm, but that didn’t happen. The boat sailed very quickly for some time. In the first part, the heavy seas slowed us down. Then, there were some great moments honing along. I flirted with peak speeds of 30 knots, but as we face the oncoming prevailing weather systems, we often experience difficult seas, which are not favourable for very high speeds…
“I finished in the dark of night off the island of San Salvador, where not many people live, so there were very few lights. We have to round some major headlands, which are not lit and on the GPS we were close to a coral reef. I called up Mr. Clifford Fernandez from the WSSRC, who found a little boat to take him out to see me cross the line. I furled the gennaker and he came on board. After 5-10 minutes, I hoisted the sail again to avoid drifting towards the coast. They got off and I set off again without even seeing a single tree… I’m currently on my way down towards the French West Indies.”
The next challenge for Joyon on IDEC will be another attempt at the North Atlantic record between New York and the Lizard.