Speedy Frenchman on Route of Discovery

Francis Joyon and his maxi trimaran IDEC passed Cadiz on Tuesday morning at the start of an attempt to break the singlehanded Discovery Route record, from Cadiz to San Salvador.

Francis Joyon, one of the nominees for the 2008 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards after smashing the solo round the world record earlier this year – is aiming to better the time of 10 days, 11 hours, 50 minutes and 46 seconds set by fellow Frenchman Thomas Coville onboard the 60ft trimaran Sodebo back in July 2005. The so-called Discovery Route, named after the historical track taken by Christopher Columbus, covers 3,884 nautical miles.

Conditions look set to be conducive to high speeds “with a good flow north-northwest 25 to 30 knots and a relatively short route,” according to Jean-Yves Bernot, Joyon’s weather router.

Looking ahead, Bernot is predicting a fast start, with Joyon reaching the Canary Island is as little as 36 hours, but says the second half of the record attempt could prove more challenging, “The situation remains sympathetic to the middle of the Atlantic, then it is more complicated and it is too early to talk about,” he said last night. “We are in an intermediate situation with an anticyclone split into two which offers the advantage of a more direct and faster route with a better angle, but also a delicate transition zone, probably on day six.”

To better Coville’s record, Joyon must cross the Atlantic and cross the finishing line at San Salvador by 17:20:43 UTC on 7 November. This translates to an average of 15.5 knots on the direct route, “which corresponds to be above 22 knots permanently,” says Joyon, for whom there is only one way to have a chance to succeed in this sprint: “to be alert all the time! ”

The Record To Beat

Record: Cadiz to San Salvador, Singlehanded
Yacht: Sodebo, 60ft trimaran
Skipper: Thomas Coville (FRA)
Dates: July 2005
Elapsed time: 10 days, 11 hours, 50 minutes and 46 seconds
Distance: 3,884 nautical miles
Average Speed: 15.41 knots

IDEC website