Joyon Reigns Supreme

18 Jun

To almost no one’s surprise, Francis Joyon managed to add the NYC-Lizard Transatlantic record to his impressive solo sailing trophy cabinet (which already housed the 24-hour record, the East-West Transatlantic record, and the biggest and most important of all, the RTW solo record).

It can be counted as mildly surprising, given that he was trailing Thomas Coville’s 2008 reference time for a good chunk of the course as he rode a southerly depression that took him off the Great Circle route, that he smashed the record by such a massive margin, besting Colville in the end by 16 hours, 34 minutes (that’s about a 12 percent jump in performance).

Here’s the breakdown:

Total time: 5 days 2 hours 56 minutes 10 seconds

Average speed over the 2,865 nautical mile course: 23.3 knots

Average speed through the water (3,222 miles sailed): 26.2 knots

Here’s Joyon carefully crossing the finish:

Once in port, the taciturn, actions-speak-louder-than-words, Frenchman managed a few observations regarding his voyage. On the route, and the southerly depression that in the end went the right way for him, he noted:

” The depression could have a little more northern route, so a little shorter. Or otherwise further south, which would have been catastrophic. Finally, we found a compromise that suited us. Small advantage to the southern route is that there was no threat of icebergs on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, and I had less fog than in my previous record. That said, enjoying a similar depression on a more direct route north, could earn at least half a day .”

Perhaps the hardest question for Joyon to answer would have been: what do you do next? Pretty much the only records anyone cares about that aren’t already his are the various Pacific crossing records. But those are half a world away from France. So maybe Joyon will simply rest on his laurels, being feted and toasted by his sailing-savvy homeland, until another solo sailor manages to force him back out on the seas to reclaim one of his many records.


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