He might be the graybeard of the glamorous Ultime trimaran class, but veteran singlehander Francis Joyon is rocking his 60s with a new burst of record-seeking inspired by age-old trade routes.
The 63-year-old, who currently holds the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest crewed passage around the world and who trounced his younger rivals to win last year’s Route du Rhum solo race, kicked off an ambitious 27,000-mile “Asian Tour” program when he left France in late October onboard the maxi-trimaran IDEC Sport.
Joyon’s first goal was to beat his own record for the solo, nonstop passage from Port Louis in Lorient, France, to Port Louis on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. In 2009, he set a time of 26 days, four hours and 13 minutes for the 10,300-mile passage down the South Atlantic Ocean and around the Cape of Good Hope. At the time of writing, he was already well on the way to smashing that record.
Next, Joyon’s crew will join him to establish reference times for two new passages—between Mauritius and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and between Ho Chi Minh City and Shenzen, China. This will be new territory for Joyon, whose multiple circumnavigations have all taken place much farther south.
In January, the crew will set off on the longest passage of them all in an attempt to capture the record for the 15,000-mile Clipper Route—named after the tea clippers that ran between Hong Kong and London into the early years of the 20th century. The record is currently held by Italian skipper Giovanni Soldini and his crew onboard the Multi 70 trimaran Maserati, which averaged over 17 knots en route to setting a time of 36 days, 2 hours and 37 minutes—a “remarkable performance” according to Joyon, who acknowledges the record will be tough to beat even with his much bigger boat.
MHS Winter 2019