It’s almost become cliché, expressing amazement at the latest feat of offshore sailing achieved by yet another intrepid Frenchman. But how else are sailing fans to react to the latest solo round-the-world record of 42 days 16 hours and 40 minutes set by François Gabart aboard the maxi-tri Macif this past winter?
To put Gabart’s accomplishment in perspective, the time to beat was 49 days 3 hours 7 minutes, a mark set by countryman Thomas Coville aboard the maxi-tri Sodebo only a year earlier. Coville, in turn, had beaten the 2004 record set by yet another Frenchman, Francis Joyon, by a little over eight days. Before that, the record as set by British sailor Ellen MacArthur in 2005 was 71 days 14 hours 18 minutes. In other words, not only did Gabart beat the previous record by nearly a week, but in a little over a decade, the record has now been lowered by almost a month.
Or to put it another way: Gabart also beat the crewed round-the-world record of 45 days 13 hours and 42 minutes that was set by Banque Populaire V in 2012 and came within two days of beating the existing record of 40 days 23 hours and 30 minutes set by IDEC 3 in early 2017. Along the way, Gabart also set a new solo 24-hour solo distance record of 851 miles. His average speed during the roughly 28,000-mile voyage was 27 knots.
“I’m quite simply exhausted,” Gabart said shortly after his arrival in Ouessant, France. “It’s been really hard for weeks. I’m sore all over. It hurts when I raise my arms, but I’m holding out because of the adrenaline and the euphoria.”
Fortunately, in spite of this fatigue, and despite having now secured a place among the pantheon of some of the greatest sailors of all time, Gabart, who also won the 2012-13 Vendée Globe, is hardly ready to pack it in. “I believe that we can still raise the level of the game and go much faster,” he was quoted as saying, before he was even fully rested from this most recent voyage. “That’s really inspiring…There’s plenty more to do and to imagine, to sail fast on these boats.”
For more on Gabart’s record-setting voyage for the ages, visit macifcourseaularge.com.