It was almost over as soon as it began.
As Thomas Coville, skipper of Sodebo, departed Jan. 29 from Brest, France, in an attempt to beat Francis Joyon's solo circumnavigation record, a strong gust caught him by surprise, almost pitchpoling his trimaran.
Click play to watch the video of Coville's departure. The near-miss is at 35 seconds. Mobile users can click here to watch.
"Clearly, he was steering the boat manually and was surprised by a strong gust, which sent him scrambling and turning the wheel to port to bear off and bleed pressure as soon as he felt that the boat was getting overpowered," Soundings sailing editor Dieter Loibner says. "I wouldn't call it a disaster but, yes, it was a close call."
Coville is attempting to beat Joyon's 2008 record of 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and six seconds. To accomplish this goal, he must be back in Brest by March 28. His 105-foot trimaran, Sodebo, crossed the equator at 1:35 p.m. on Feb. 5, behind Joyon's benchmark time to the equator, according to reports.