Francis Joyon: ‘My turn to tackle this amazing adventure’

For the solo round the world record holder, the Jules Verne Trophy will be an opportunity to achieve a historic double. If he succeeds, it will be all the more amazing as Francis Joyon at the age of 59 will be catt’empting his first crewed record. Aboard IDEC SPORT (ex Groupama 3 sailed by Franck Cammas and ex-Banque Populaire VII sailed by Armel Le Cléac’h and then Loïck Peyron), Joyon is gambling on a light weight boat and will be sailing with a short-handed crew. He explains why.

Francis, what does the Jules Verne Trophy represent for you?
Francis Joyon: “I have closely followed all the attempts since 1993. Each time I had a lot of admiration for the sailors setting sail around the world as part of a crew. Now it’s my turn to tackle this incredible adventure. This is a huge challenge: I could become the first sailor to smash the solo round the world record and then the crewed record. The Jules Verne Trophy will be a new exercise for me. I’m going to have to learn how to manage a team. And unlike solo sailing, we shall be getting more or less 100% of the potential of the boat. That’s exciting as I shall be discovering a bigger boat than my previous trimaran (31.50 m as opposed to 29.70 m), with a huge speed potential, as the new IDEC SPORT appears to be capable of reaching 40 knots relatively easily. That is very promising.”

Spindrift 2, the boat that holds the Jules Verne Trophy (in the colours of Banque Populaire V in 2012), is also due to go on stand-by this autumn. Isn’t it going to be tough to beat the world’s biggest ocean racing trimaran (40 m)?
“IDEC SPORT will be in with ever chance against Spindrift 2 and we’ll be setting out without any inferiority complex. The history of the Jules Verne Trophy and ocean racing in general, has tended quite logically to see continuous growth in size and technology. We’re not going for that and have chosen a smaller boat. IDEC SPORT will be a good all round maxi trimaran with the ability to accelerate and a favourable weight to power ratio. The length and weight of Spindrift 2 means it is tough to sail her. Even if we put Spindrift to one side, the bar is very high, as we have to complete the voyage in less than 45 days 13 hours and 42 minutes to win the Jules Verne Trophy. In 2010, Groupama 3 made it around the world in 48 days with weather that was far from ideal. The boat has the potential to do it in a few days less and can improve on the current record. Particularly as at the time, Franck Cammas and his crew were sailing very cautiously after filing on their first two attempts. We’re going to have to be push hard all the way and not suffer any damage, so there is going to be an element of luck involved… “
“With her light weight, the new IDEC SPORT trimaran is a jet fighter.”

Why did you choose a smaller rig, as this is the configuration usually used for solo sailing?
”The smaller mast is more efficient and effective when the wind is above twenty knots. After a study of the weather carried out in collaboration with the router Jean-Yves Bernot, we should often encounter these conditions as we tackle the Jules Verne Trophy. It is of course lighter and the smaller rig means the boat is safer and cuts through the water more easily. The risk of structural damage is reduced, as the loads are not as high. With the big mast, we would have needed at least ten on board, while with the configuration we have gone for, there will be at most six of us (as opposed to 14 for the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, Banque Populaire V in 2012 and 10 for Groupama 3 in 2010). The fact that we have a short-handed crew means we can simplify work on board and go for a light approach by saving weight in terms of food, safety gear, clothes… With her light weight, the new IDEC SPORT trimaran is a jet fighter.”

What will be your programme in the coming months?
“The boat is currently under charter to Lending Club and we’ll be getting her back on 15th September. We’re going to have a very busy period, as the right time to go on stand-by for the Jules Verne is the start of November. Before that, we’re going to have to get the boat in the colours of IDEC SPORT, step the small mast, adapt the deck hardware, get the boat back in shape and schedule training sessions. We’re not going to get bored with all that going on.”

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