Tomorrow Francis Joyon will probably set off to try again to win the Jules Verne Trophy after he threw in the towel a few days ago due to a less than optimal weather window. But more than attempting the round-the-world crew record, the Frenchman should worry about the one he already holds, or fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe. As time goes on, his record (57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds, at an average speed of 19.09 knots on the maxi trimaran Idec) looks increasingly shaky.
COVILLE IS SUCCEEDING IN ITS UNDERTAKING
In fact, Thomas Coville, on his maxi trimaran Sodebo would indeed seem destined to beat him: for now, with less than 5,000 miles to go in Brittany, he has a lead of 1540.26 miles over Joyon’s tracking projection, and an average speed, in the first 38 days of sailing, almost 5 knots higher than Idec was able to grind out.
SO HE BUILT HIS ADVANTAGE
Compared to Joyon in 2007, Coville faced a very different Atlantic crossing: immediately after the start, he kept low, rounding Coruna, passing through the Canary Islands and Cape Verde (Joyon had jumped into the middle of the Atlantic), all the way to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. From here, again, he kept further south of Joyon to the Cape of Good Hope. A choice that paid off, in fact Coville lapped the leader with about 500 miles to spare over IDEC’s projection. In the Indian, however, it was further north to the Kerguelen Islands, after which it moved to lower latitudes than Joyon. Again, an apt choice, his lead ahead of Cape Leeuwin amounted to 1,140 miles. In the Pacific, the two routes were fairly similar, but Sodebo benefited from better weather conditions and came into Cape Horn with an impressive 1,800 miles ahead.
THE DREAM COULD BECOME REALITY
He then decided to leave the Malvinas/Falkland Islands to starboard (Joyon passed to the left) and is now sailing up off Rio de Janeiro with a lead of more than 1,500 miles, in “control.” Could this really be it: that the “Wile E. Coyote of Sailing” finally succeeds in the feat of becoming the fastest solo sailor around the world? God only knows how long Thomas has been hatching this dream: we had dubbed him the “Wile E. Coyote of sailing,” for so far he has already tried twice to snatch the record from Joyon without succeeding. In 2011, during the first attempt, he was the protagonist of a gavage whose video went around the world and which we show below).
COVILLE’S HISTORIC INGAVONATA