Full speed ahead to The Lizard for Francis Joyon, IDEC

Traveling some 650 miles over the past 24 hours, Francis Joyon is close to his own 24-hour solo sailing distance record of 666 miles. This figure alone divulges the incredible performance the sailor from Locmariaquer has achieved since setting out from New York on Wednesday. Sailing a long way south of the ideal, direct route, (Great Circle Route), which Thomas Coville managed to stick with for four days back in July 2008, Francis Joyon took up the huge challenge of sailing not merely above the speed of 21 knots, the average speed for the current record, but at more than 25 knots.

Joyon continues to maintain these high speeds today and can look forward to finishing off The Lizard in the middle of the afternoon tomorrow (Sunday). In so doing, IDEC and Francis, with the loyal support of his router Jean-Yves Bernot, will achieve the unique feat of holding all four major solo sailing records.

'What makes these multihulls so magical is that you can ask a lot of them; 25, 30 or 35 knots….' When Francis Joyon tells us this, he makes it all sound so banal. His calm voice reveals hardly anything of what has been a little over four days of a mammoth struggle in a very deep low-pressure area aboard a multihull, which behaves like a runaway horse. The simple fact does not explain the extent of the challenge he faced by going much further than the direct route followed by the current record-holder, Thomas Coville. And it does not reveal the stress, the ongoing danger, the risk taking that pushing this boat to the limit for such a long time without any easing off entails. But that is what was required for Francis Joyon, who was for more than half of the voyage behind schedule, to get back up with the track taken by his virtual opponent, and then to overtake him and leave him a long way in his wake. 'I didn’t quite get the conditions I had for my 24-hour distance record,' added Francis, 'as during the night, I slept for three hours! It is true that I have been completely stressed out ever since the start in New York.'

SAILING - SOLO ROUND THE WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT 2007-2008 - LA TRINITE (FRA) - 10/10/2007 PHOTO : JEAN MARIE LIOT / DPPI POUR IDEC TRIMARAN IDEC / SKIPPER : FRANCIS JOYON (FRA)

'The low is gradually getting ahead of me,' continued Francis, who was in fine form after the luxury of three hours of sleep, while the speed of his IDEC trimaran did not appear to be affected at all. 'The wind will come around as we approach the British Isles, in other words instead of being from astern, will be on the beam. That won’t be quite as favourable for the speed,' explained Francis, as if making excuses; 'But that should enable us to complete the crossing tomorrow afternoon.' The precise time is not yet clear. Based on computer predictions and the most recent data, he is likely to pass in front of The Lizard between 1500 and 1600hrs UTC (1700-1800hrs CET) tomorrow (Sunday). This would mean an improvement on the current record of between 12 and 13 hours!

There is unlikely to be any need for any major manoeuvres over the final 600 miles left to sail. 'The low simply moved in the right direction to allow us to avoid gybing again.' Under full mainsail and staysail, Francis will merely have to hoist the genoa, once the wind veers to his left. Far from celebrating in advance as he approaches the continental shelf and the first tiny indicators that he is approaching the coast, Francis Joyon is stepping up his vigilance, paying careful attention to wear and tear on the boat, and more than ever remaining in tune with the behaviour of his big, red trimaran as she rides over the waves.

Trimaran IDEC website