Record Round the World Solo: Francis Joyon has standing ovaition from 160 journalists

Sunday, 20 January 2008

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A few hours after his successful sail around the world in 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds, a tired, yet smiling and relaxed Francis Joyon attended a press conference to mark the end of his voyage. Given a standing ovation by the 160 journalists, the skipper of the IDEC trimaran once again praised his « super boat.» Here are some of the subjects he dealt with.

The final hours of the record
«Finishing at night was a little tricky. I drew close to the continental shelf with all the fishing boats around and I had to swerve twice to avoid boats: firstly a fishing vessel then a cargo ship, which went ten metres behind my stern. Once again some tense moments. It’s not very often that you have to change course like that, especially twice in such a short space of time.»

Friendly crowds turn out in Brest
«It feels a bit like arriving on the Moon! Reaching Brest with all those people watching, was something I had never experienced before. The support and warmth of the welcome from the people of Brest impressed me… »

A summary of the voyage?
«That’s a difficult one! I was lucky enough to have at my disposal a boat, which sails quickly, for a long time and over long distances. You have to imagine a windsurfer, who managed to surf along without interruption through the world’s oceans. The Indian went by very quickly. In the Pacific, it took a little more hard work because of the complicated weather patterns, which forced me to go down a long way south. On one special day I saw five icebergs on the same day, which was beginning to get a bit worrying. It wasn’t easy distinguishing the crests of the waves from the ice. I went by Cape Horn fairly quickly and then afterwards, for the Atlantic climb, I discovered what it was like to come to a standstill. Then, I had a lot of headwinds, which doesn’t really suit multihulls very much. The, in spite of the technical problems, the boat made her way home. It wasn’t easy everyday, but I’m pleased to be here with you today.»

Joyon’s secret?
«I don’t know if I really have one. When you’re tired, you can quickly start to become very mystical, so I’m going to have to watch what I say (laughter). Perhaps I knew how to respect the elements, with a boat that didn’t pollute anything, pushed along by green power. Perhaps it is my respect for the sea that enabled me to get through.»

What was the most difficult thing?
«The hardest thing was going up the mast to try to repair the damage to the shroud support, in particular the first time I went up in cross seas. I was really battered around, I kept slamming into the mast, and it really was very dangerous… »

Jean-Yves Bernot’s routing?
«Jean-Yves has sailed a lot as part of a crew. Sometimes he said: in 24 hours time, you need to be 600 miles further on.. He really raised the bar! He always reacts to 100% of what the boat can offer. He communicated to me where the boat could be at such and such a place or at a particular time, according to the wind direction. That encouraged me to keep pushing… »

Ellen MacArthur and Thomas Coville
«Thanks to them too. Without Ellen the boat would not have existed, as if she hadn’t grabbed the record three years ago, I would have had no reason to go back. Thanks to Thomas, we had to build the best boat possible. He made us that much more demanding.»

What about the boat?
«It was almost as if I was getting told off by the designers, who were telling me I was going too fast, that I hadn’t respected the running in period (laughter)! More seriously, Nigel Irens and Benoît Cabaret did some amazing work. The boat shows an incredible potential to pass through the waves in perfect harmony. I had never seen anything like that before and that is what allowed me to sail quickly. It’s the work of a whole team… »

The team
«The designers, boat builders, those, who built the masts, sails (which did not suffer a single rip or tear…) everyone gave it their utmost. I’m thinking too of Marsaudon Composites, of Christophe Houdet, everyone… An extraordinary team. There was a lot of passion and a lot of pleasure involved. That is what makes IDEC so successful. That is why she is such a great boat.»

Confidence
«I thought the probability of smashing the record was one in three or four. The simple fact that we sailed around the world in a multihull with no damage and without stopping is something you cannot count on, even before you start talking about the record…. »

The weather
«Until the Indian, we glided along nicely with some favourable winds, even if there were the usual difficulties on this sort of route. The Pacific was as ever difficult and the Atlantic was much more difficult than usual. There comes a time, when you have to pay for all the good fortune you have had beforehand. It was the toughest climb back up the Atlantic that I have endured.»

Did you ever think of giving up?
«At the Equator after discovering the damage to the shroud, I did think about heading for the islands of Fernando de Noronha to work on the mast, but that was 400 miles away… In the worst scenario, I would have set sail again after a pit stop, but I never thought of retiring from the race.»

The results of a clean boat with no fossil fuel?
«I had equipment, which used as little energy as possible. A boat is like an island or indeed like the planet: you need to protect the environment, but also reduce to a minimum your consumption of non-renewable energy. It all worked very well, with the batteries always fully charged. The results are extremely positive: 20 kg for the wind turbine, 20 kg of solar panels and 15 litres of methanol for the fuel cell, makes it much lighter than an engine and all the litres of fuel you require. It’s also highly satisfying to do that in a "good" way, by attempting to reduce the footprint on the planet.»

The future
«I’ll probably have a go at the Cadix-San Salvador, some Pacific records and probably try to win back the 24-hour record from Sodeb’O."

Will you miss the boat tonight?
«I shan’t be far from it for very long. I fitted most of the parts myself, which means I’m involved on a daily basis… I’ll look after her as soon as she is back in la Trinité. »

What they said:

Patrice Lafargue, CEO of IDEC
Sailing around the world on a multihull alone is much more than a simple sport. It’s an adventure. With Francis, we have built a friendship based on shared values. I have been lucky enough to know someone, who fascinates me, while remaining simple and reserved. It’s great meeting people like him, who stand out. He had a wonderful round the world voyage. Words cannot describe that. When he set out I was a bit worried.. when someone like that sets out, you really want him back. The record is fabulous, extraordinary… but above all I’m pleased to see Francis. The future? We can still do some great things together, but it’s too soon to talk about that and we’re a bit like spoilt children, as he has given us so many records…

Jean Todt, sponsor of the ICM and the IDEC trimaran
«I have always felt great admiration for the type of risk that these sailors take, especially single-handed yachtsmen. I was amazed by Ellen MacArthur’s performance, so am completely dazzled by Francis’s. I was lucky enough to chat with him on two occasions on the phone. By chance it was at a difficult moment, and he was astonishingly calm. I followed him with great interest, admiring the courage it took, as personally I wouldn’t even attempt to cross the Lake in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris on a yacht… More seriously, to make the ICM project succeed, we need great personalities like Francis.»

Professor Gérard Saillant, founder of the ICM and sponsor of the trimaran
«I experienced this round the world voyage like everyone else, taking a look at the website every morning, worrying whether there were any problems on board… and the final week was that much tougher than the others. At the finish, Francis appeared to have his eyes partly closed and looked tired, but I saw that he was still in fine form. He has some extraordinary physical resistance. The machine is fantastic, but it is the man we need to put first.  I’d like to thank him for supporting our cause, which is to try to offer answers to patients suffering from brain and bone marrow disorders, which will affect one out of every eight of us.»

Press conference © JM Liot / DPPI/ IDEC

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 20 January 2008 )