He did it. Francis Joyon managed to surprise those who know him well and astonish the world of sailing, who thought they knew everything about him. Winning the race after a legendary battle with François Gabart in a historic Route du Rhum, where the gap at the finish was the smallest in history since Mike Birch and Michel Malinowski, the skipper of IDEC SPORT once again needed to be one notch above the others to achieve this incredible feat.
A win, a new race record aboard the boat that has now won the race three times in spite of being twelve years old. It was above all thanks to his exceptional determination, his motivation and an incredible physical strength in spite of his age that Francis Joyon attacked the race. This Route du Rhum is the perfect summary of the Joyon method. A traditional approach that has been forgotten by many and replaced by the sort of economic model associated with F1 racing. He takes care of the preparation of his own boats, learns from each experience and uses his intuition, surrounding himself with the skills he feels he needs. This win is the victory of a man and his desire and unrivalled tenacity.
One of the keys to Francis Joyon’s win in Pointe-à-Pitre was certainly his perfect knowledge of his IDEC SPORT trimaran, which he has already sailed around the world twice in the Jules Verne Trophy with a crew. When Francis returned to solo racing, there were bound to be questions in Saint-Malo about his goals and his ability to sail his maxi-trimaran at 100% of her potential. From the start, the answer was clear for all to see. Francis was in it to win it and would defy all the forecasts. He was back using his own personal method to fight against the elements and the clock. Giving it his all throughout working on finding the right sail for the weather and trimming. Ready to give up on his sleep and food to get the job done. That is where Francis amazes everyone with his physical performance. There has not been a single moment when he has felt he has gone too far down that road, or put himself in danger due to this lack of sleep, which was obviously required to pull off such incredible feats in transatlantic races or achieving North Atlantic records.
Francis sailed IDEC SPORT faster and harder than with a crew in the same conditions, while at the same time ensuring the perfect balance and harmony between his trajectories and the resources to fight this duel with François Gabart for seven days in nasty weather early in the race and painful calms off Guadeloupe.
So it is all down to the man himself. The sailor and not any technical prowess is being celebrated. Francis at the age of 62, seems to be stronger than ever, in control, resilient, determined to win but not for the glory. He left to one side the torture and was willing to suffer. At one with his machine, which in so many ways resembles him, he has just reached the pinnacle with one of the biggest successes in his long career, while remaining as modest and humble as ever.