Boat gives out on record run

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JAN. 8 — French sailor Thomas Coville beat the 24-hour record distance for a multihull vessel yesterday during his solo attempt to circumnavigate the globe. He claimed the title from another well-known French sailor, Francis Joyon, according to a press release from his Web site.

He beat Joyon by three miles at 619.3 miles covered at an average speed of 25.8 knots aboard his 105-foot maxi trimaran, Sodeb’O — and just in time. Shortly afterward, Coville says he noticed the crash box on the starboard float had been pulled out, and in a matter of seconds realized his journey had reached an abrupt halt. The crash box protects the float itself in case of an extreme impact.

“I had just received the news that I had established a new 24-hour record when I felt the boat slow,” said Coville in the press release. “I immediately went up on deck and saw a plume of water, which was [10 feet] above the starboard float.”

Both Joyon and Coville reached the record on their 20th day at sea between the Cape of Good Hope and the Kerguelen Islands, directly ahead of a depression, according to the article. Coville has made temporary repairs and is now making his way to Cape Town, South Africa, and then return to Les Sables d’Olonne, France.

“As tradition indicates, I would like to congratulate Thomas on having taken the 24-hour record from me, which goes to show the potential of his boat and his desire to express himself in these difficult latitudes,” said Joyon in the release. “As for the damage aboard Sodeb’O, damage which forces a skipper to retire from such a long, difficult voyage is something which haunts all round-the-world sailors.”

The record is expected to be verified over the next few days by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

— Elizabeth Ellis