Skip to content
January 21, 2008

Photo of the Day: Incroyable!

Francis Joyon arrives in Brest, flares lit.

© Liot-Vapillon/DPPI Idec

Just 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds after starting from Brest, France, Francis Joyon finished his record attempt in the wee hours of Sunday morning, then took a well-earned victory nap before greeting the 2,000-strong crowd of well-wishers that gathered to welcome him home.

"It feels a bit like arriving on the Moon!" he said. "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 . . ."

When asked if there was a secret to his success, he joked, "When you’re tired, you can quickly start to become very mystical, so I’m going to have to watch what I say."

Perhaps as amazing as the voyage itself is the fact that he accomplished it without having to use a generator. Although IDEC carried solar panels and a fuel cell, we’d be surprised if the apparent wind generated by a 97-ft trimaran  averaging 19.09 knots around the world wasn’t enough to power the boat’s systems.

When asked what he’d be doing with the boat in the future, Joyon mentioned the Route of Discovery course from Cadiz to San Salvador. Interestingly, Thomas Coville, who took off behind Joyon but had to retire from his attempt, took that record from Joyon and the previous IDEC in 2005 with his previous Sodeb’O, an ORMA 60 trimaran.

We got more than a little excited when Joyon mentioned "some Pacific records." We just hope the records he was alluding to start or end in the Bay Area. Cross your fingers . . .

We’ll have a full report on Joyon’s amazing trip in the February issue of Latitude, due to hit the streets February 1.

Big Cat Escapes New York!

Gitana 13 is heading our way.

Gitana 13
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As this ‘Lectronic Latitude was posted, the 110-ft catamaran Gitana 13 was blasting southeast down the Atlantic, five days into a nonstop record attempt at the 14,000-mile Route de l’Or: the ‘route of gold’ from New York to San Francisco. After a bumpy start — the boat was sailing double reefed for the first few days in shifty winds and choppy seas — G-13 is currently riding the tradewinds southeast under full sail, gobbling up the Atlantic ocean at the rate of 26+ knots for the last 24 hours.

As noted in last week’s ‘Lectronic, Gitana 13 (built in 2001 as Innovation Explorer for The Race) left New York last Wednesday. The record she is attempting to break is currently held by Yves Parlier, whose Open 60 Aquitaine Innovations covered the route in 1998’s The Gold Race in 57 days, 3 hours, 21 minutes. The multihull record, set in 1989 by Georgs Kolesnikov’s 60-ft trimaran Great American, is 76 days, 23 hours, 20 minutes. By the way, all these ‘gold’ references harken back to the days when sailing ships delivered gold seekers to California from the east. The best of the best back then was the 229-ft clipper Flying Cloud, whose 1851 mark of 89 days, 21 hours stood for more than 130 years.

Slowed by shifty conditions the first few days, Gitana 13 is currently in the tradewinds, averaging better than 26 knots.

Gitana 13
©2008 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Assuming no breakage or other delays, G-13 and her 10-man crew should have no problems annihilating all these marks. If all goes as planned, the big cat and her 10-man crew are expected to arrived under the Golden Gate on or about February 20.

Additional good news is that you can now follow this adventure online. When she left, our only information contact was a Bay Area sailor who knew skipper Lionel Lemonchois. Now the Gitana website finally has caught up with the boat. There are maps, log entries, a neat video of her leaving New York and more. Check it all out at

Maltese Falcon in the Bay?

Doug Thorne, who sails his Celestial 48 Tamara Leann out of Alameda, brought to our attention that Bay Area mogul Tom Perkins was interviewed on KQED’s Forum radio show on January 9. The hour-long interview was to promote Perkins’ new book, Valley Boy, but featured questions from callers at the end, one of which was "When will we see Maltese Falcon on the Bay?" To our surprise, Perkins admitted that he was considering bringing the 289-ft Falcon to the Bay this May.

An ‘artist’s representation’ of what Tom Perkin’s magnificent Maltese Falcon might look like on the Bay.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Wouldn’t that be a sight? We’ll keep you posted.

‘Global Cooling’ in Mexico?

With all the talk about global warming, cruisers in Mexico are wondering why it’s been so cold — since about the 10th of December — compared to other seasons.

"It’s been the coldest in the four years that I’ve been down here," reports Tom Hoffman of the San Francisco-based Peterson 44 Persistence from Puerto Vallarta. As he’s planning to head down to ZihuaFest in a few days, it should get warmer.

Hoffman inquired how the weather has been in the French West Indies, and we can report that we haven’t worn more than a shortsleeve shirt and shorts, even in the rain at night, since we arrived on Christmas Day. But for those who are keeping track, we’re at about the same latitude as Acapulco.

Cruisers Converge on Zihua

Although SailFest’s focus is on fundraising and shoreside fun, fleet members also test their racing prowess.

© sailfest 07

The biggest buzz within the Mexico cruising community this month is about the 7th annual Zihuatanejo SailFest, which is expected to draw a hundred foreign boats to this tranquil coastal town.

Dubbed a ‘SailFest’ rather than a regatta, the focus is largely on good-natured fun rather than diehard competition, although there is one pursuit race on the event’s six-day schedule. As the event has grown, however, its most important function has become fundraising to aid local schools and community projects. Last year, roughly $45,000 was collected from fleet donations, which was then matched dollar-for-dollar by several expat philanthropists who have adopted Zihua as their part-time residence. In addition to simply donating funds, many big-hearted cruisers also lend their strong backs and construction expertise to projects such as erecting new school buildings. In Mexico, it should be noted, public education is only funded by the government through the sixth grade.

For many cruisers, the greatest satisfaction of the event is working together with new local friends.

© sailfest 07

This year’s SailFest kicks off January 29 with a fiesta at Rick’s Bar, aka ‘Cruiser Central’, followed the next day by a benefit concert and BBQ. On January 31 Playa Madera will be the site of a massive beach party with beach games, followed by the traditional chili cook-off later in the afternoon. The event continues February 1 with a Pursuit Race, then a post-race raft-up and potluck. A Sail Parade follows on Saturday, February 2. Slated for Sunday are another BBQ and beach party at Playa Madera, which will include an awards ceremony, an auction and a raffle.

In Zihua, Rick’s Bar has long been regarded as the cruiser’s favorite watering hole.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Sure sounds like fun to us, and unlike attending a big-time weeklong regatta, with any luck Z-Fest participants will probably make it through the entire event without getting callused hands or drawing blood. Look for a complete report in the March 1 edition of Latitude 38.

Francis Joyon has absolutely crushed the record for a non-stop, singlehanded circumnavigation. Joyon sailed his 97-ft trimaran IDEC across the finish line off the Brest inlet in 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes and 6 seconds — not only was it the fastest non-stop, solo lap around the world, but the second-fastest circumnavigation .