Francis Joyon and IDEC Sport smash Jules Verne crewed round the world record in 40d 23h 30m and 30s, with a 26.8 knot average speed

Francis Joyon and his crew of Clément Surtel, Alex Pella, Bernard Stamm, Gwénolé Gahinet and Sébastien Audigane have set a new crewed round the world record of 40d 23h 30m and 30s.

The maxi trimaran Idec Sport set a new record time for the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright round the world sailing record when the team crossed the finish line off Ushant at 0749 (UTC) on Thursday 26 January 2017 having sailed the 22,000-mile theoretical round the world course in 40d 23h 30m and 30s. On the water, they actually sailed 26,412 miles at a blistering average speed of 26.85 knots.

They shattered the previous record set by Loïck Peyron and the crew of the maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V in 2012 by 4d 14h 12m and 23s. During their round the world voyage, they also broke no fewer than six intermediate records with fastest times as they passed Cape Leeuwin, off Tasmania, the International Date Line, Cape Horn, the Equator and off Ushant.

Other impressive statistics include Day 14, when they clocked up 894 miles at an average pace of 37.3 knots. For eight days, they sailed more than 800 miles in 24 hours, and for another seven days their 24 hour mileage was over 700 miles.

While this winter has been dominated by record-breaking round the world courses – Thomas Coville setting a phenomenal sub-50 days solo round the world record last month (smashing Joyon’s own solo round the world record time in the process) and the Vendée Globe leaders also completed the course at an unprecedented pace for monohull sailors – Joyon and his team did not have an entirely smooth course.

After aborting their first attempt a few days before because of a hold-up in the Doldrums, Joyon and his men set off again, wondering about how the weather systems would evolve in the South Atlantic. “We set sail on 16 December, uncertain about the outcome,” explained the youngest member of the crew, Gwénolé Gahinet.

By the fifth day of racing the red trimaran had gained a lead of more than 210 miles over Peyron’s existing record. But in the Doldrums they suffered in an area of thunderstorms, huge wind shifts and calms. Averaging just 6.4 knots on 21 December, Idec Sport had their worst day, sailing just 186 miles in 24 hours. They dropped further and further behind the pace of their virtual rival, Banque Populaire V and when they entered the Roaring Forties on the eleventh day, were 755 miles behind.

Training for the maxi tri IDEC Sport, skipper Francis Joyon, and his crew, prior to their circumnavigation crew record attempt for Trophy Jules Verne, off Belle Ile, on october 12, 2016 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / IDEC

Pulling it back

However, in the Southern Ocean Joyon and crew were able to claw back the deficit. They had a good route past the calms of the St. Helena High, hopping onto a Southern low as they exited the Atlantic. Idec remained ahead of that system, taking advantage of strong NW’ly winds for 11 days, when their speed would rarely drop below 30 knots.

With peak boat speeds of more than 44 knots, Joyon’s gang had a fast run right across the Southern Ocean, taking just 4d 9h to sail from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Leeuwin. By 4 January, they had extended their lead over the record to a day and a half, as they passed to the south of Tasmania. Just over a week later, they clocked up another record at Cape Horn, leaving Banque Populaire V 4d 6h behind.

As for Coville and the Vendée leaders, whilst the Southern Ocean provided a fast passage, the South Atlantic dealt a series of classically tricky weather patterns. Once past the Falklands, a deep low appeared off Argentina, creating a nasty head-on swell for Idec. The crew had to find a compromise between pushing hard to make headway north and preserving the boat.

There were three possible routes off the south of Brazil with a series of transition zones. They could look for wind out to the east or sail upwind close to Brazil. Joyon, with the support of his router, Marcel van Triest, chose a middle route to head north, which meant they had decent weather to pass Cape Frio and pick up the south-easterly Tradewinds. The Doldrums again slowed the trimaran, where analysis from van Triest suggested going a long way west and north of Fortaleza to enter the Northern Hemisphere. They pulled it off. “We never got entirely stopped,” exclaimed Joyon when he found the trade winds.

Off the Cape Verde Islands, the wind gradually came around with the Tradewinds offering Idec Sport a good angle and wind speed to approach the south of the Azores. They were back up to high speeds in excess of 30 knots on the final arc towards Brittany.

Intermediate times

Equator: 5 days, 18 hrs, 59 minutes, 4h 3m behind Banque Populaire V
Good Hope: 12 days, 19 hrs, 28 minutes, 21h 40m behind Banque Populaire V
Cape Agulhas: 12 days, 21 hrs, 22 minutes, 21h 34m behind Banque Populaire V
Cape Leeuwin: 17 days, 6 hrs, 59 minutes, 16h  58m ahead of Banque Populaire V
Tasmania: 18 days, 18 hrs, 31 minutes, 1d 12h 43m ahead of Banque Populaire V
Cape Horn: 26 days, 15 hrs and 45 minutes, 4d 6h ahead of Banque Populaire V
Equator: 35 days 4 hrs and 9 minutes, 2d 22h  36m ahead of Banque Populaire V.
Equator – Ushant: 5 days, 19 hrs, 21 minutes

Jules Verne records

2012 Loick Peyron, Banque Populaire V (trimaran) 45d 13h 42m 53s

2010 Franck Cammas, Groupama 3 (trimaran) 48d 7h 44m 52s

2005 Bruno Peyron, Orange II (catamaran) 50d 16h 20m 4s)

2004 Olivier de Kerauson, Geronimo (trimaran) 63d 13h 59m 46s

2002 Bruno Peyron, Orange (catamaran) 64d 8h 37m 24s

1997 Olivier de Kerauson, Sport Elec (trimaran) 71d 14h 22m 8s

1994 Peter Blake, Enza New Zealand (catamaran) 74d 22h 17m 22s

1993 Bruno Peyron, Explorer (catamaran) 79d 6h 15m 56s

Read more about the amazing head-to-head Jules Verne attempts by Idec Sport and Spindrift 2 last year here.