Joyon's trimaran is all about simplicity and economy - right down to these details


If you want to know something about a man, look closely at his boat. Apply that axiom to Francis Joyon’s record-breaking trimaran IDEC and you find someone who prefers simplicity and economy, and has no regard – none whatsoever – for fashion, appearance or the filigrees of pointless finicky detail. All that matters is that things do their job.

Outside, IDEC looks every bit the sleek multimillion Euro speed machine. Go on board, however, and you see a set of bones picked clean. The boat is staggeringly utilitarian.

Joyon wasn’t around for most of the time IDEC was being built; he disappeared into the blue for six months to go sailing his catamaran with his family, as he does most winters, and left the project manager and the yard to get on with it. When he got back he found there were things he preferred to change.

For example, Joyon didn’t like the cabin windows, which were neatly recessed but too small for his taste, so he got a saw and cut out bigger holes, Sikoflexed in some polycarbonate, screwed them tight and taped round the outside edges to stop them leaking. His concession to appearance? The tape is red.

Joyon didn’t see the point of spending money where he didn’t need to so many of the fittings are mismatched. He used 15-year old blocks from his boat store alongside others salvaged some from the old IDEC, all serviceable if a little creaky.

He took the wheel from the first IDEC as well, and when the new design proved it needed rudders on the floats he simply used ones from his old 60ft trimaran. They weren’t designed for the job and, in theory, were too small. They had also done the equivalent of 10 round the world voyages. Joyon was proved right, though; they were sufficient for the job and they cost nothing.

Joyon’s rather old-fashioned philosophy of make do and mend is evident everywhere. His bunk can be tilted up and fixed with a barrel bolt into a piece of wood he glued on to the bulkheads. A handy instrument panel near the cockpit is roughly cut out and epoxied under the sidedeck. Screwed to the bulkhead inside the companionway is a useful receptacle for pens and suchlike made from a sawn-off plastic drinks bottle.

IDEC is monastic. There are none of the lucky trinkets or cuddly toys you see on many tough-as-oak solo sailors’ boats. Opposite the tiny galley, however, are two posters of a mountainous rainforest and a waterfall in the Marquesas Islands.

That’s where Joyon cruised with his wife and two boys last year. Those who know him say that while his ambition is to go fast, his dream is to sail slowly, to dive, to catch fish and to live an unhurried life day by day.