Francis Joyon is undoubtedly one fast solo sailor. He already holds the solo round the world record, the 24-hour distance record and now the 'Columbus' Route record in his 98ft trimaran IDEC. Not content with this, this northern hemisphere spring he is set to tackle the North Atlantic record. If he achieves that, he will become the only sailor in the world to have managed this Grand Slam of 'fastest' records.
Francis Joyon, IDEC
Who was first - a sailing vessel like this, sailed by Christopher Columbus? or...
Joyon has already achieved a long list of incredible successes. He managed to sail around the world alone in just 57 days. Last summer, once again sailing solo he covered 668 miles (1237 km) in just one day, setting the 24-hour distance record at an amazing average speed of 27.83 knots.
Finally, between the 6th and 15th February, he beat his own previous record on the Columbus Route (Cadiz-San Salvador in the Bahamas, a distance of 3,884nm), taking more than one day off the record by completing the voyage in 8 days, 16 hours, 7 minutes and 5 seconds. His average speed for the entire journey was an amazing 18.66kts.
On board IDEC, his only constant companion in his record-breaking swathe, there are now some additional pieces of equipment that have made her even faster than before, foils.
So what else is there for Francis Joyon to achieve aboard his 29-metre long trimaran? Only the North Atlantic record remains.
The possibility of becoming the only sailor in the world to hold these four records at the same time is therefore within Francis Joyon’s grasp this year. Neither Ellen MacArthur, nor Thomas Coville – his two closest rivals in this field – have ever been within reach of achieving that.
To do this he must go faster than his fellow compatriot, Coville, did who holds the current record at 5 days, 19 hours, 29 minutes and 20 seconds - and that means averaging around 21knots for the entire journey.
The route itself, following that taken by the transatlantic liners, is steeped in history and has given us some of the most legendary images of sea travel. Nantucket and the Grand Banks, sailing off Nova Scotia with its violent storms and ghostly fogs. The big red trimaran is currently waiting patiently for a favourable weather opportunity. That is likely to be from early May onwards. As Joyon says: 'There are no limits to our dreams.'