Faster and faster - IDEC Sport's round the world record breaking spree
There is speed and then there is Francis Joyon and his crew of IDEC Sport. Around the world in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes, 30 seconds and with it the undisputed ownership of the Jules Verne Trophy.
Joyon and his five man crew comprising of; Bernard Stamm, Alex Pella, Gwénolé Gahinet, Clément Surtel and Sébastien Audigane; sailed an exceptional race on VPLP’s most successful multihull. Over the course of 8 days during the record breaking run, they sailed over 800nm a day. 7 days at over 700nm, that was the catalyst to reverse several days of losing miles and making serious gains on the 2013 record. At their fastest, on day 14 of the attempt, they sailed 894nm at an average speed of 37.3knots!!
Here are the reference times:
Equator: 5 days, 18 hrs, 59 minutes, or 4 hrs and 3 minutes behind Banque Populaire V
Good Hope: 12 days, 19 hrs, 28 minutes, or 21 hrs and 40 minutes behind Banque Populaire V
Cape Agulhas: 12 days, 21 hrs, 22 minutes, or 21 hrs, 34 minutes behind Banque Populaire V
Cape Leeuwin: 17 days, 6 hrs, 59 minutes, or 16 hrs and 58 minutes ahead of Banque Populaire V
Tasmania: 18 days, 18 hrs and 31 minutes, or 1 day, 12 hrs and 43 minutes ahead of Banque Populaire V
Cape Horn: 26 days, 15 hrs and 45 minutes, or 4 days and 6 hrs ahead of Banque Populaire V
Equator: 35 days 4 hrs and 9 minutes, or 2 days, 22 hrs and 36 minutes ahead of Banque Populaire V.
Equator – Ushant: 5 days, 19 hrs, 21 minutes
“first you must serve the oar, only then can you take the helm” - Sulla.
Over the course of his career he has stood firmly by his Nigel Iren’s designed Ultime.
The highly optimised red multihull was synonymous with Joyon. He took it around the world in 57days and broke numerous solo sailing records along the way.
That record in itself was a huge achievement and it’s time, it was deemed unbreakable, right up to moment Thomas Coville set off in November 2016. Coville’s eclipsing of Joyon’s record by over 8 days was incredible achievement. It must not be forgotten that it was his 6th attempt and his 3rd trimaran. Joyon held the record from 2008 to 2016, completing the circumnavigation in 57 days.
As Coville got closer and closer, and his boats got bigger and bigger; Joyon knew the writing was on the wall. All who’ve etched their names into record books carry the wounds of unsuccessful attempts, gear failure, misfortune and fate working against them.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man
The Jules Verne record set by Banque Populaire V in 2013 stood at: 44 days.
Joyon took a radical approach to the Jules Verne attempt. He chose the VPLP designed 31.5m Ultime that was designed in 2006 for Frank Cammas and his Groupama team - won the Jules Verne Trophy in 2010. This trimaran has a proven pedigree.
First demonstrated in the winter of 2015, Joyon left Brest with a crew of 6 to crew the 31.5m Ultime IDEC Sport to around the globe. Not only was he racing the ghost of Banque Populaire’s record run from 2012 (crewed by 14), but he was up against Spindrift 2 (the refit Banque Populaire 2) and her crew of 12. Not content with the lighter crew, Joyon changed the rig - opting for a shorter mast to save weight (the conditions in the south showed they’d have a reef, if not two in their main for the majority of the challenge). With a shorter mast, the weight saved in both the tube and the main sail would prove significant. The compromise being slower speeds in light to medium airs was worth this risk. The 2006 VPLP designed 31.5 Ultime found her sweet spot; a shorter rig and a smaller crew. Joyon and his crew sustained 35+ knots for days on end.
Banque Populaire 5’s skipper in 2012/13 Loick Peyron aptly stated “A record is meant to be broken and this boat shows that often often old saucepans make the best soup…this is an impressive record and encourages me to give it another go.”
During the 2015 challenge, Joyon took a gamble and dove south to the edge of the Antarctic, shortening the distance to sail, but exponentially increasing their risk. Small lumps of ice that break away from the ice flow drift north, “growlers” as they are affectionately referred to litter the seas on the edge of the Antarctic ice shelf…right along Joyon’s rhum line.
The risk paid off in 2015, but they were undone by a testing passage north through the South Atlantic that affectively put paid to their record attempt and that of Spindrift too. But the desire of Joyon and his crew to succeed was matched by that of the powers that be at IDEC Sport. Like Coville’s longstanding relationship with Patricia Brochard’s Sodebo, Joyon has long had the patronage of IDEC Sport and all his major records were set on the famous red IDEC multihulls.
“It’s hugely emotional. I feel overwhelmed, even if I am used to Francis’s achievements. I’m very proud as are my employees to have accompanied him in Jules Verne Trophy. This small team is made up of real sailors. They are all nice people. I’d also like to congratulate Thomas Coville, who beat Francis’s solo record. An amazing achievement.” - Patrice Lafargue, CEO of IDEC.
An abandoned attempt in late 2016 was a tough call on the team, but it was well founded. Legendary ocean racing navigator Marcel Van Triest, from the comfort of Palma, Majorca provided Joyon with inch perfect routing. As the weather windows were shutting on their first attempt in 2016, they pulled the pin and returned to Brest. Anti climatic to say the least, it’s deflating to return to port on any occasion, to do so when you’ve spent several days heating up trimaran and eating miles, is crushing.
The faith placed in Van Triest is well founded. (He has played significant roles in many Jules Verne attempts - including part of the crew in Banque Populaire’ 5’s record run in 2013.) Once IDEC rounded Cape Horn it hooked into a low and the trimaran streaked across the southern ocean at speeds in excess of 35 knots. Notably, through his ability to predict weather patterns, the total distance actually sailed: 26,412 miles, in comparison to Banque Populaire V’s 29,002 miles.
Down to the sea again
The Vendée Globe and the Jules Verne have lit up sailing over the last few months.
The Volvo Ocean Race starts this November and already, the bar has been raised significantly. The pressure is on to match and surpass the quality of the story telling coming from the teams.
The content from the boats has never been better. The highs and lows have been shared - raw human emotion and endeavour communicated for the furthest reaches of the globe by sailors surviving on little sleep, freeze dried foods and wine gums as they fight to reign in the carbon fibre sleds that threaten to run away from underneath them.
Ocean racing is off to a blistering start in 2017.
[Main Image: JM Liot/DPPI/IDEC SPORT]