Last week Frenchman Francis Joyon set off in a purpose built sailing boat in an attempt to beat Ellen MacArthur's current world record for a single handed circumnavigation. He is attempting to reclaim his record as the fastest single handed circumnavigator which he lost to Ellen MacArthur in February 2005, when she bested Joyon's record by 1 day, 8 hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds.
IDEC in action
On May 9th 2006 Joyon announced that he was building a new muilti-hull to be called IDEC II. His new boat is designed for solo sailing unlike the original IDEC in which he set the previous record. Design was by Nigel Irens & Bernard Caberet.
Ellen MacArthur in full gear
IDEC II weighs around 11 tons compared to his previous boat which weighed 16 tons, and has 10% more sail area. The new boat should be capable of taking 3 days off the existing record under the same weather conditions.
Joyon has a long career of speed sailing. It was in February 2004 that he became the fastest world solo yachtsman, setting a time over 20 days faster than the previous record for a circumnavigation of 72 days 22 hours and 54 minutes and 22 seconds of covering more than 28,000 nautical miles (51,900 km) at an average speed of 15.5 knots (28.7 km/h) on the 90 foot(27.4m) trimaran IDEC.
IDEC, formerly known as Sport Electric, had previously taken 71 days to win the Jules Verne Trophy. Joyon took only an extra day on his own with a boat not designed for single-handed sailing, original (over 10 year old) sails and no weather router.
However, he has met with tragedy as well as success. On 6 July 2005 Idec skippered by Francis Joyon crossed the finishing line between Lizard Point and Ushant 6d days 4 hours 1 minute and 37 seconds after the start at Ambrose Lighthouse off New York.
Joyon and Family
He thus broke the 11-year old record of Laurent Bourgnon for the single-handed crossing of the Atlantic Ocean with a sailing boat. On this voyage he also broke the 24 hour distance record for single-handed sailing by sailing 543 nautical miles (1,006 km) in one day on the 3 July 2005.
However, this remarkable record voyage ended tragically on 7 July when Idec became stuck between two rocks off the Breton coast. The boat was steered by autopilot while Joyon slept. When he and his helpers tried to salvage IDEC, the boat was lifted by a wave and smashed onto the rocks. Thus, the 4-million-Euro trimaran was wrecked and Joyon had no vessel to attempt to break further sailing records.
So this is a new start for Joyon, and in the first reports are that he is on track to break Ellen's record. But it's early days yet....