French challenger for Ellen's round the world record sailed home from Australia on his sea trials


As part of his preparations to attempt to beat Ellen MacArthur’s non-stop solo round the world record, Thomas Coville sailed his new 32m trimaran Sodeb’O back from the yard where she was built on the east coast of Australia, arriving in La Trinité sur Mer earlier this week.

Coville’s crewed sea trial across the Indian Ocean and upwind through the Red Sea took 63 days. Most impressive was his passage across the Indian Ocean which took just under 9 days, at a quite blistering average of 21 knots.

On the homeward leg, they had a brush with officialdom. When they were off the coast of Algeria, Customs officers tracking vessels by radar hailed them and refused to believe the vessel was a yacht: not possible, they argued – not at that speed.

Coville will leave later this year on his record attempt, as will Francis Joyon, who is also making a bid in his new, slightly more simplified Nigel-Irens-designed trimaran.

Both tris are bigger and more powerful than Ellen’s B&Q and, all being well, the odds are one of the two will set a new record this winter.