Solo sailor takes back his record

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JAN. 22 — French sailor Francis Joyon has a lot to celebrate.

At 51, he has reclaimed the title of the fastest solo sailor to circle the earth, completing his voyage in 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and six seconds, according to a translated press release from Joyon’s Web site, www.trimaran-idec.com.

Since 2005, the record has been held by British sailor Ellen MacArthur, who finished the voyage in 71 days and 14 hours. However Joyon, aboard his 98-foot trimaran IDEC, beat her record by two weeks, crossing the finish line on Sunday in Brest, France, according to the press release.

Joyon’s average speed was 19.09 knots, and thus also capturing the second-best time ever sailing around the world, including crew. IDEC replaces Steve Fossett’s 125-foot crewed catamaran, Cheyenne, that made it in 58 days, nine hours and 32 minutes in April 2004. The fastest still remains the 122-foot crewed catamaran Orange II, which, with Bruno Peyron at the helm, finished the circumnavigation in just over 50 days in 2006.

Joyon achieved this record using clean energy throughout the voyage, according to the release. IDEC has no engine and rather relies on a wind turbine and solar panels for energy.

“It’s just huge,” said MacArthur in the release, who greeted Joyon in Brest. “I really had to give everything I had to beat his 2004 record; today he betters mine by 14 days. Amazing seamanship, ideal weather and a faster boat are key factors, but above all I cannot express how much respect I have for the man.”

“I never dreamt of taking two weeks off her record,” said an exhausted Joyon upon arriving at Brest.

— Elizabeth Ellis