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Fast sail to England

French sailor Thomas Coville slipped the lines at 7:47 a.m. Tuesday from New York City’s BrooklynHarbor and began an attempt at beating the multihull speed record for crossing the North Atlantic, set by fellow French sailor Francis Joyon in 2005, according to a recent report from Coville’s team.

Coville crossed the starting line at Ambrose Light in Sodeb ‘O, his 104-foot maxi trimaran, and will attempt to reach Lizard Point on the southwest coast of England in less than six days, four hours, 1 minute and 37 seconds, according to the report.

“Maintaining the speed of the maxi Sodeb ‘O at an average of over 19.75 knots for 2,980 miles for nearly six days remains an achievable performance,” Coville wrote on his Web site.

Sodeb ‘O has been on standby at the harbor for this journey since May 19. Coville is currently the holder of the 24-hour speed record, sailing 619 miles in the course of a day during his solo sail around the world last winter. Unfortunately, the trip was abruptly halted shortly after Corville attained his record when the crash box on the starboard float had been pulled out and the crew had to return to South Africa to make repairs in Cape Town.

The trimaran has been configured to make it as light as possible for this attempt, with the crew going so far as to take out their bunks, emptying the diesel tank and dismantling the engine’s propeller shaft. Coville and his crew plan to subsist on two day’s worth of fresh food and rely on freeze-dried meals, cereal bars and energy drinks for the rest. To track Coville’s process, visit

— Elizabeth Ellis