Speed machine

Over the past two years an intense battle has been waged between Thomas Coville aboard his 120-foot G-class trimaran, Sodeb’O, and Francis Joyon aboard his equally massive tri, IDEC 2. While the two Frenchmen likely share laughs ashore, when they’re racing offshore they are at each other’s throats, with one skipper battling to best the other in setting unbelievably fast solo-passage records.

Coville ticked off a jaw-dropping 628.5 miles (ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council) during one 24-hour period last December while attempting to break Joyon’s solo around-the-world record. That’s an average of 26.19 knots, and the existing 24-hour record Coville broke was his own (619 miles), set early in 2008. Says Coville, “These speeds are completely insane. To maintain an average of 26.19 knots, you have to regularly make over 30 knots of boatspeed. Sodeb’O is going fast. She loves these conditions, as do I.”

Despite that record-setting pace, Coville failed to best Joyon’s around-the-world speed. Still, Coville has bragging rights on the 24-hour record. For now. Records don’t last long these days.

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