Francis Joyon’s stranglehold on the world’s major solo sailing records is beginning to ease and the first one to fall is his eighteen-month old 24-hour solo distance record of 666.2 miles. Averaging a staggering 28.2 knots of boat speed over 24 hours, Armel Le Cleac’h and Banque Populaire VII have added 11 miles to Joyon’s old mark, bringing the new reference to 677 miles sailed in twenty-four hours, solo.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the two-time Vendée Globe runner up and two time Figaro champ looks poised to soon topple another one of Joyon’s most famous of records: Columbus’ Discovery Route from Cadiz, Spain to San Salvador in the Bahamas. Having just crossed the halfway mark in the 3,884 mile attempt, Armel and BP7 are absolutely crushing the reference time, more than 350 miles ahead as of this writing. Still averaging 28 knots boat speed in reinforced northeast to easterly trades of 30 knots, the team’s near perfect weather window continues to hold up, despite conflicting weather forecasts later down the course.

As the breeze eases slightly and veers more easterly, Armel will climb back up to or above the rhumbline and gybe over to port for his approach to the Bahamas. With a southeasterly and eventually southerly breeze filling in the transition zone, Armel could end up with a clean and simple “one and in” scenario to the Bahamas. If there is to be a changing of the guard in maxi-trimaran ocean records, we could be watching it at this very moment.

Coville and Sodebo – the long way ‘round

There’s a reason Thomas Coville is on his fifth attempt to break Francis Joyon’s solo round the world recored; this shit ain’t easy. Joyon and IDEC had a brilliant weather scenario and route down the Atlantic that got him off to a cracking start. Coville and Sodebo…. not so much. The South Atlantic’s Saint Helena high remains a disorganized smorgasbord of pressure that will involve a combination of inconsistent breeze, additional miles sailed and complicated touch-and-go routing to get through; not exactly the stuff that records are made of. Check out the look of dejection on Thomas’ face when he sees just how shitty the new forecast looks. (2.25) http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ac92z_sodebo-24-1-2014_sport Thanks to Anarchist Laurent for the English translation!

Thomas is now 240+ miles behind the reference time and is expecting to take more losses over the next 3-4 days. Forced to head due south and stay close to the Brazilian coast, he must helplessly watch Joyon’s record-setting route sail southeast towards the mark in better pressure. By this weekend, Coville should be in ‘the south’ riding the leading edge of his first southern ocean low with all of the South Atlantic’s tricky business behind him, allowing the Breton sailor to focus on boat speed and working himself out of what will likely be a 500-mile hole.

Lemonchois and Prince de Bretagne- quietly threading the needle in the South Atlantic

Sailing in the same patch of water as Thomas Coville, Lionel Lemonchois and his 80-foot trimaran Prince de Bretagne are utilizing a wildly different strategy in attempting to break one of Francis Joyon’s records; La Mauricienne, the record from Port Louis in Brittany to Port Louis in Mauritius. Approaching the halfway mark in this nearly 10,000 mile long record attempt, Lemonchois is currently 360 miles ahead of the reference, although sailing into a very uncertain scenario. Choosing to punch a straight line through a split Saint Helena High, the skipper from Normandy is opting to sail a shorter course in light-air than a longer course in more steady pressure, owing to his highly modified and lengthened ORMA 60’s excellence in light air. Once Lionel gets through the one (or two) light patches shown in the gribs, he will still be dealing with complicated, relatively weak low pressures that will take him around the Cape.

Lemonchois’ La Mauricienne attempt equally as exciting to watch as BP7 and Sodebo’s attempts. Three different tri’s, three different records, one opponent. Thrilling stuff. Stay tuned to SA for a follow-up to BP7’s attempt in a few days, as well as updates on Sodebo and Prince de Bretagne.

-Ronnie Simpson