Celebrated French sailor Francis Joyon has added another conquest to his name, setting a new 24-hour speed record for a solo sailor.
Joyon, the solo round-the-world record holder, yesterday sailed 668 nautical miles - or 1237 kilometres - on his 29m trimaran IDEC. That's an average speed of 27.83 knots.
The Frenchman set off from la Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany last Friday heading for the Azores in search of ideal conditions to tackle the record held by Thomas Coville, who sailed 628.5 nautical miles in 2008.
Around 800 miles west of Cape Finisterre on the edge of the Azores High, Joyon found what he was looking for - steady strong winds ahead of a front with calm seas. He started off in a south-westerly wind but had to contend with a swell from the north.
"I gave it my all and after a certain length of time, the swell eased off and the wind strengthened to 32 knots. It was extremely risky. The boat was constantly on the edge," Joyon said from the boat.
"I wasn't at the helm. I stayed there for 24 hours standing in the cockpit with the mainsail sheet in one hand and the solent sheet in the other. When the boat dug into a wave, I eased off one or the other. But I often had to ease them both off at the same time. There was no rest. I just swallowed down a few cereal bars to feed myself."
Joyon, who held the record in 2004, said he was "over the moon" to take almost 40 miles off Colville's mark. "I'm particularly pleased as I haven't sailed that much since capsizing last year during my transatlantic record attempt."
Meanwhile British solo sailor Alex Thompson has broken a single-handed monohull transatlantic record - from West to East Ambrose Lighthouse to Lizard Point - on his Farr Open 60, Hugo Boss.
Thompson, training for the Vendee Globe round-the-world race, set a new time of 8 days, 22 hours and 8 minutes for a boat under 60ft. He took 26 hours off the 10-year-old record.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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