Francis Joyon

Mark Lloyd /
The great man talks Route du Rhum, safety on big trimarans and round the world races
One highlight of this year for us was last week finally getting some time with Francis Joyon prior the start of the Route du Rhum-La Banque Postale. In our view the 54 year old French man qualifies for ‘living legend’ status, as within the top end of our sport, where there is perhaps a template for the ‘professional skipper’ – great sailor, smartly dressed, pristine boat, good communicator representing well the company that sponsors their campaign - Joyon remains an enigma. Joyon has been on the offshore shorthanded circuit for more than two decades now, his first Route du Rhum in 1990 aboard the ORMA 60 BPO. During the mid-1990s he was Banque Populaire’s ORMA 60 skipper posting some good results such a second place in the 1995 Transat Jacques Vabre and 1996 Quebec-St Malo race. After his departure from Banque Populaire, many in the class figured him to be on his way out, no more so when he pitched up in Plymouth prior to the star of the Europe 1 New Man STAR (OSTAR). While the high profile heavily sponsored ORMA 60 teams were moored in Queen Anne’s Battery marina, their shore teams clad in sponsor uniforms swarming across the boats, Joyon’s Eure et Loire remained away from the hubbub, out on mooring, as Joyon worked on his recently acquired, less than shiny trimaran, all alone. And so for race pundits, including ourselves it came with considerable surprise when after nine days, 23 hours and 21 minutes of racing singlehanded the wrong way across the North Atlantic it wasn’t favourites such as Alain Gautier, Franck Cammas or even his replacement skipper at Banque Populaire, Lalou Roucayrol (now competing in this year’s Route du Rhum in the Multi50 class) that arrived first into Newport, Rhode Island, but a quietly spoken Frenchman and