Francis Joyon reflects on his record
A few hours after his successful sail around the world in 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds, a tired, yet smiling and relaxed Francis Joyon attended a press conference to mark the end of his voyage. Giving a standing ovation by the 160 journalists, the skipper of the IDEC trimaran praised his ‘super boat.’ Here are some of the subjects he dealt with.
‘Finishing at night was a little tricky. I drew close to the continental shelf with all the fishing boats around and I had to swerve twice to avoid boats: firstly a fishing vessel then a cargo ship, which went ten metres behind my stern. Once again some tense moments. It’s not very often that you have to change course like that, especially twice in such a short space of time.
‘I was lucky enough to have at my disposal a boat, which sails quickly, for a long time and over long distances. You have to imagine a windsurfer, who managed to surf along without interruption through the world’s oceans. The Indian went by very quickly. In the Pacific, it took a little more hard work because of the complicated weather patterns, which forced me to go down a long way south. On one special day I saw five icebergs on the same day, which was beginning to get a bit worrying. It wasn’t easy distinguishing the crests of the waves from the ice. I went by Cape Horn fairly quickly and then afterwards, for the Atlantic climb, I discovered what it was like to come to a standstill. Then, I had a lot of headwinds, which doesn’t really suit multihulls very much. The, in spite of the technical problems, the boat made her way home. It wasn’t easy everyday, but I’m pleased to be here with you today.
‘The hardest thing was going up the mast to try to repair the damage to the shroud support, in particular the first time I went up in cross seas. I was really battered around, I kept slamming into the mast, and it really was very dangerous.
‘Without Ellen the boat would not have existed, as if she hadn’t grabbed the record three years ago, I would have had no reason to go back.
‘It was almost as if I was getting told off by the designers, who were telling me I was going too fast, that I hadn’t respected the running in period (laughter)! More seriously, Nigel Irens and Benoît Cabaret did some amazing work. The boat shows an incredible potential to pass through the waves in perfect harmony. I had never seen anything like that before and that is what allowed me to sail quickly. It’s the work of a whole team
‘I thought the probability of smashing the record was one in three or four. The simple fact that we sailed around the world in a multihull with no damage and without stopping is something you cannot count on, even before you start talking about the record.
‘Until the Indian, we glided along nicely with some favourable winds, even if there were the usual difficulties on this sort of route. The Pacific was as ever difficult and the Atlantic was much more difficult than usual. There comes a time, when you have to pay for all the good fortune you have had beforehand. It was the toughest climb back up the Atlantic that I have endured.
‘At the Equator after discovering the damage to the shroud, I did think about heading for the islands of Fernando de Noronha to work on the mast, but that was 400 miles away In the worst scenario, I would have set sail again after a pit stop, but I never thought of retiring from the race.
‘I had equipment, which used as little energy as possible. A boat is like an island or indeed like the planet: you need to protect the environment, but also reduce to a minimum your consumption of non-renewable energy. It all worked very well, with the batteries always fully charged. The results are extremely positive: 20 kg for the wind turbine, 20 kg of solar panels and 15 litres of methanol for the fuel cell, makes it much lighter than an engine and all the litres of fuel you require. It’s also highly satisfying to do that in a “good” way, by attempting to reduce the footprint on the planet.’