Record chaser 'won't beat' Joyon

Thomas Coville, chasing the non-stop, round-the-world, solo record is facing defeat. With 1,600 miles from the goal, the skipper of the Maxi Trimaran Sodeb’O is preparing for his arrival in Brest. However, he is having to face facts and cannot hide his disappointment as a competitor: he won’t beat Francis Joyon’s record time this year, the latter taking 57 days and 13 hours to sail single-handed around the planet during the same period last year.

Thomas is expected in Brest on the evening or the night of Friday 16th January UT. He’s likely to take around two days more than Francis Joyon. The skipper of Sodeb’O, already a solo 24 hour record holder, will achieve the fourth fastest outright time, following on from IDEC in solo configuration and the crewed performances of Orange II and Cheyenne. 20 years ago, in the 20th century, Olivier de Kersauson received a hero’s welcome in Brest after single-handedly sailing around the globe in 125 days, with two stopovers; that is double the time taken by sailors at the start of the 21st century.

Since exiting the Doldrums, where there was still a slim chance of beating the record, the sequence of weather has not been favourable to speed. The weather over the past two days has ended up crushing any hope of victory. The Azores High has stretched itself out, pinning the Maxi Trimaran’s hulls to the sea in erratic winds. The story is in no way over though. There is one last hand-to-hand fight awaiting Thomas from today. Sodeb’O will have to tackle one of the most violent lows since his departure. Six metre waves are forecast, accompanied by a SW’ly wind, veering round to the NW and filling in to over 30 knots. “The NW’ly rotation will be very quick which won’t do me any favours. To make northing, I’m going to have to sail as close to the wind as possible in conditions which will be testing for both the boat and myself.”

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