French skipper Francis Joyon added yet another world sailing record to his collection this morning
IDEC Sport sailed under the QE2 bridge at 0737 GMT to set a new Hong Kong to London record of 31 days, 23 hours, 36 minutes and 46 seconds, shaving more than 4 days off Giovanni Soldini’s record, which was set on Maserati in 2018.
Joyon and his crew of Bertrand Delesne, Christophe Houdet, Antoine Blouet and Corentin Joyon sailed a total distance of more than 15,873 miles for an average speed of 20.7 knots.
IDEC Sport’s arrival was made all the more impressive as it came after a tricky overnight passage through the English Channel, navigated without the benefit of radar or AIS due to depleted batteries.
Speaking to Yachting World at Butler’s Wharf, Joyon admitted that the last leg of the journey was the hardest: “We feel well now, but we had three very difficult nights before arriving in London and then we had to tack all the way into the Thames, so it was very tiring and there was not one minute of rest last night. We had no autopilot, no computer, nothing was working on board.”
“About five miles from the finish, there was a cargo ship alongside us and there was no space to tack, so we had to gybe and during the gybe there was maybe 20cm between us. The cargo ship did not stop, it was very, very dangerous.”
Another challenge that the IDEC Sport crew faced was a broken halyard, which required a crew member to climb the 33.5m mast to repair. The crew worked a 3-hour watch system and used a modified exercise bike to power the winches.
In keeping with the traditions of the clipper route, Joyon brought back a souvenir of his Asian tour: “There was a producer in Vietnam who gave us some tea, so if you want some we will sell it at a very good price!”
The Jules Verne Trophy holder was characteristically tight-lipped about his future sailing plans, adding: “We have no immediate projects with the boat. I just want to rest and have some time with my family.”