It’s now official: Francis Joyon will be setting off in the autumn to try to improve on the Jules Verne Trophy record time. It will once again be on his IDEC SPORT ‘ultime’ trimaran with a crew that he will attempt to complete the voyage in under 45 days. We met up with him to find out more.
Francis, this time it is official. A year after your first attempt, you will be setting off around the world again in the autumn to tackle the Jules Verne Trophy.
“Yes… we have not yet finished the job, so we’re going back. When we finished in Brest on 8th January (after 47 days, 14 hours and 47 minutes), we even thought about setting off again a few days later… but that was more or less said as a joke, as there was after all some work to do on the boat. This time, we are serious: we will move to stand-by in late October this year to make another attempt.”
When will the stand-by possibly last until?
“Let’s say from the last few days of October to late January 2017. In my opinion, the season finishes at the end of January. It’s true that there have been Jules Verne records set later on, but that was when the time to beat was not quite as tricky as it is today, I think. We clearly saw that getting around in less than 45 days and 13 hours wasn’t that simple and so those are the ideal stand-by dates.”
Will you be setting off again with the smaller mast?
“Yes, indeed, as it is a collection of things: setting off with the smaller mast means saving at least two tonnes. As we are a relatively small crew with just six sailors, that means we save weight in terms of the crew, but also with the weight of the equipment and food we need aboard as well as the weight of the rigging, etc… I think this is the right combination. Particularly as if we look back at our round the world voyage, it seems clear to me that we wouldn’t have done better with the bigger mast. Our choice seems to be the right one, as even if we didn’t smash the record, our first experience in this configuration showed we could perform well. Bu finishing in 47 days, we showed that we weren’t far off the goal of grabbing the record from Loïck Peyron… who incidentally is our neighbour on the pontoon in La Trinité-sur-mer: he is preparing for the Transat, while we are getting ready for the Jules Verne Trophy…”
What improvements can be made to the IDEC SPORT trimaran to make her even more competitive?
“We are still trying to save a little weight, while optimising the sail plan. With the same mast, we will be increasing the surface of the mainsail and the headsails, in particular the big gennaker. The idea is of course to ensure the boat is not as handicapped in lighter conditions or in light airs.”
“First of all, I could see that we were on track at the Horn and it was the climb back up the Atlantic that handicapped us. Before that we performed really well from the start to the Equator and then when crossing the Indian Ocean (world record of exactly seven days, editor’s note). But it is clear we can do better on the way down the South Atlantic between the Equator and the Cape of Good Hope and in the Pacific and finally on the way back up the Atlantic. In the Pacific for example, we didn’t get the usual conditions with strong, powerful winds, which would have favoured our smaller rig. We even had to deal with areas of high pressure! With strong winds and lows, we would have sailed much faster and would have been well ahead by Cape Horn.”
(Francis bursts out laughing) “It’s still the same! To improve by at least one hour on the 45 days 13 hours and 42 minutes, which is still the record held by Loïck (Peyron)’s crew. There’s no point in aiming for anything more. If there was the slightest doubt about it being difficult to achieve, I can remind you that there were two boats that didn’t pull it off last winter. It’s a tough record and that’s what makes it so interesting!”
This attempt will be your fifth time around the world; the second with a crew… What motivates you still after all these years fighting hard on the water to take these world records?
“It’s never the same thing twice. Firstly, it is still something of an adventure and secondly, the goal is still hard to achieve. That means I have at least two good reasons to get back out there. Once again, this is unfinished business…”
You have seven months now before setting off again around the world. What is the programme for IDEC SPORT during that period?
“We shall be going to Douarnenez for the Guyader Grand Prix to do speed runs and take some young champions aboard (see our previous article). After that, we’ll be going down to the Mediterranean in May for some PR operations with IDEC. If the weather allows and we have the time, I may make a solo attempt at the 24-hour record. But the main goal in 2016 is of course, the Jules Verne Trophy. Then, we’ll be putting the boat in the yard in August to prepare her much more than last time, when the stand-by began just a month and a half after we got our hands on the boat. This time, we will have the time to work more calmly and carry out more stuff.”