French company plans the new 'ultimate solo round the world race' - in multihulls


It’s just a thought, but does Francis Joyon’s new solo round the world record mean the Vendée Globe could eventually be deposed as the most extreme and hardcore of the world’s ocean races?

No-one had ever sailed a multihull around the world alone non-stop through the Southern Ocean until Joyon’s first record four years ago. It was considered exceptionally dangerous, but with three successes in three consecutive attempts, that is changing.

So is the next logical ‘ultimate ocean race’ not a monohull race at all but a solo multihull challenge?

That’s the thinking behind a bold proposal by Pen Duick, the company that organises the Route du Rhum and the Transat Jacques Vabre races. Pen Duick is working with the city of Brest on plans for a single-handed multihull round the world fleet race to begin on 30 December 2011. The working title for the race is ‘Ultime Challenge’.

The event would be open to catamarans or trimarans and, as with The Race in 2000, the idea is to offer a completely blank sheet to competitors in terms of boat size and sail area. In other words, race whatever you think you can handle.

Pen Duick is said to be looking for six to eight entries. There are already four suitable boats in existence: Ellen’s B&Q, IDEC, Thomas Coville’s Sodeb’O and Polpharma, a 90ft carbon maxi catamaran that was built last year at Marstrom in Sweden for Polish sailor Roman Paszke in the hope (surely now a vain one) of breaking the solo round the world record.

If it captures the imagination of sponsors there are quite a few sailors who would be tempted and plenty of time to build anew.

Photo courtesy of Thierry Martinez