The French solo sailing legend smashes the solo 24-hour record in his maxi trimaran IDEC

French solo sailor Francis Joyon has set a new outright 24-hour solo record of 668 nautical miles or 1,237km [NOTE: corrected on ratification in September to 666.2 miles].

Joyon chased the record between la Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany and the Azores in his 29m trimaran IDEC. If ratified, the new distance will smash the previous record held by fellow Frenchman Thomas Coville by 40 miles. Joyon recorded an average speed of 27.83 knots.
The news came as a complete surprise to us, as we hadn’t heard a whisper about his planned attempt. That’s quite in keeping, however, as Joyon is an extremely quiet man who is utterly uninterested in publicity and known for being a purist who shuns the limelight.

Explaining how he did it he said:

“I headed off around 800 miles west of Cape Finisterre, on the edge of the Azores high. I set off with a south-westerly wind, but from the start I had to deal with a swell coming in the other direction from the north.
“I gave it my all and after a certain length of time, the swell eased off and the wind strengthened to 32 knots. It was extremely risky. The boat was constantly on the edge. I wasn’t at the helm. I stayed there for 24 hours standing in the cockpit with the mainsail sheet in one hand and the solent sheet in the other.

“When the boat dug into a wave, I eased off one or the other. But I often had to ease them both off at the same time. There was no rest. I just swallowed down a few cereal bars to feed myself.”
He logged peak speeds of 34 knots during the passage. He will add this record to that of the outright solo round the world time, which he set in the same trimaran in 2004. That astonishing time of 57 days is likely to sit unbeaten for a long time.

As an aside, Francis Joyon is, in my opinion, one of the most extraordinary and admirable sailors ever to take to the water. He’s a bit of an enigma, and perhaps consequently his name is nowhere near as well-known outside France as it should be, but his feats are the stuff of legend.

Check back tomorrow, when I’ll post up a short profile of this real-life hero.