Don't look at Ellen's record for a measure of Joyon's achievement - look at the fully crewed records


Big plans are in place for Francis Joyon’s arrival this weekend. All being well, he should finish his solo round the world record late on Sunday or early Monday morning and will come ashore in choreographed fashion to a grand reception in Brest.

If it all works out as planned, his time round the world will be an incredible 60 days. That’s 11 days faster than Ellen MacArthur.

The margin is impressive enough, but I think the statistic that really puts this feat in its proper perspective is a comparison with flat-out, fully crewed round the world records. It was only five years ago that Bruno Peyron and 12 crew stunned the yachting community by scything the round the world record back to 64 days in the 110ft catamaran Orange.

Peyron’s homecoming was also in Brest and when I interviewed him shortly afterwards he was already planning Orange 2 and predicting a record of under 60 days and the first 750-mile day. “If you can build lighter and stronger then same sail area will go faster,” he said, quite logically.

But Peyron was thinking exclusively of what a large and expert crew could do and I’m quite sure he never imagined that only a few years later a solo sailor could push the record well below the time he’d set, let alone in a smaller yacht. Francis Joyon is about to and that, to me, is the scale of his achievement.