half up

Francis Joyon just left New York Tuesday, and he’s already around halfway to England.  As quick as that is, IDEC sits around 110 NM behind Thomas Coville’s Sodebo 5:19:30.40 record for the prestigious East-West Transatlantic run.  Joyon’s success depends largely on the speed of the big low pressure system he’s riding the leading edge of; à la grâce de dieu, he’s headed in the right direction at 30 knots.  Here’s a summary Joyon’s halftime report with help from Anarchists Laurent and Joan Pons Semelis, from the thread.  Photo from Vincent Curutchet/DPPI/IDEC 

Francis flew from France just 48 hrs before the start at best, prepared everything alone by himself, or with the good will of bystanders. He had to locate someone with a big enough RIB to help him get out of the marina, had to dive himself to remove his propeller, and didn’t have the time to get food for the trip.  So he asked a random dude on the dock for help; the samaritan was a Russian, and went to a Russian shop to get Russian food.

That’s how Francis Joyon – one of the world’s most extreme sailors – provisions for a record breaking attempt.  Must be nice to have a boat that can cross the ocean in 5 days!  He didn’t have much sleep either, but said it’s OK.  “I rest best at sea.”

The swell was against him at the start, slowing him down to 23 knots for the first portion of the run.   The forecast is for the low system to last most likely close to the end, but the end is always the hard part on the record, because the low pressure system either runs away from you, does not go to the right spot or dies out completely.

He is expecting to sail a Southerly route to stay in the best part of the Low; a bit longer than ideal, but on the other hand, he is happy to be a bit further from the thick fog around Newfoundland, even though he had a lot of fog in the first few hours already. Since this is not going to be the shortest route; he reckons he will have to sail at 25 knots average pretty much all the time to beat Thomas Coville.


“I’ve got constantly between 24 and 39 wind knots. This, in a maxi multi-hull, means a succession of sail changes and reefing and un-reefing …”

“The uncertainty resides in the direction the low will take at the end, some models predict a turn to England, others that it will stay in the south.”

“I’m happy to get away from the fishing zones, I’ve seen a lot of fishing boats tonight and I’ve had to zig-zag between big buoys that mark the fishing zones. The sea was sometimes white with foam under a terribly dark sky.”


In his first audio post on his web site, Joyon explains that he was getting too close to the center of the Low (about 50 miles) and he needed to gibe to get back to the 25 to 30 TWS area.

Apparently, the latest forecasts start to get in agreement for the track of the low pressure system towards England, and it looks good… So he feels upbeat for that.

He considers that he has done a good first half, but it’s “full on” all the time; when asked by the journalist, he confirms that the rythm is similar to his 24hr record attempt, except that then, he had chosen the time and the place to not only get the right wind, but also a flat sea state.

Here, right now, the swell is still bothering him, and he reckoned he did a few nose dives.  Not fun to have to ease all sheets to get the bow out from underwater, and then take the 15 minutes on the pedestal to grind them back in.

Track him here.