Francis Joyon takes the solo record: 57 days

Francis Joyon, 51, and his 98ft trimaran IDEC trimaran crossed the finishing line off Brest on Sunday 20th January 2008 at 00h39’58 having sailed round the world solo in 57 days, 13 hours and six seconds.

Joyon is once again the fastest solo yachtsman around the world shattering the previous record, held since 2005 by the British yachtswoman, Ellen MacArthur, sailing B&Q a 76ft trimaran, by 14 days, 44 minutes and 27 seconds.

It is truly an incredible performance: while he thought it was possible to bring the time down to below 70 days (the time to beat was 71 days and 14 hours), the sailor from Locmariaquer in Southern Brittany has brought it down to below 60 days. On board IDEC, Francis Joyon has covered more than 26, 400 nautical miles at the astonishing average speed of 19.09 knots.

Francis Joyon also becomes the only solo sailor in the world to have grabbed the non-stop single-handed round the world voyage record aboard a multihull on two occasions after a first record back in 2004. A feat that was has only been bettered once since then and that was when Ellen MacArthur successfully completed her voyage in 2005, which led to her being awarded the title of Dame by the Queen.

He has also achieved the second best time ever for sailing around the world, including crewed voyages! Thus, the crewed record set by Steve Fossett’s giant Cheyenne (58 days, 9 hours and 32 minutes in April 2004) has been beaten. Only the crew of Bruno Peyron’s maxi-catamaran Orange II still hold the outright record in just over 50 days.

‘It couldn’t have gone to anyone better,’ said Ellen MacArthur in Brest, welcoming Francis Joyon who magnificently broke her solo round-the-world record, established in 2005. Joyon, who had been the first man to complete a non-stop circumnavigation in 2004, had the following year lost his crown to Ellen MacArthur, but yesterday set a staggering new benchmark time of 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds.

‘It’s just huge,’ commented Ellen when asked to describe Francis Joyon’s feat. ‘I really had to give everything I had to beat his 2004 record, today he betters mine by 14 days. Amazing seamanship, ideal weather and a faster boat are the key factors, but above all I cannot express how much respect I have for the man,’ said a visibly moved Ellen MacArthur.

Joining Francis on stage after having flown over the IDEC trimaran, which left her mooring at 9:00, Ellen MacArthur wished to remain as discreet as possible, but was very warmly welcomed by the crowd – the French public being sincerely appreciative of her presence. Such was the case for Joyon too, and the hero of the day thanked her for being there before commenting: ‘Going after her record was a very tough challenge, and it’s not something you’d do every two years. But then again, she had smashed mine, so I had to do something about it! I know how hard it had been for Ellen considering she bettered a reference time I really had to fight for in 2004, so when I set off I knew I was up against something really big. I’d never had dreamt of taking two weeks off her record,’ concluded an exhausted Joyon before slipping away to join his family.

‘Beyond sports and the stunning performance he’s setting, this journey also was a way for him to send a message regarding the planet and its preservation: he only relied on clean energies and did not have an engine aboard his trimaran, and it brilliantly shows that it can actually be done. Sustainability, resources management and environmental issues are at the centre of my preoccupations, and the “clean” aspect of Francis’s journey certainly adds to its value as far as I’m concerned,’ concluded Ellen.