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Coville Out, Joyon Gaining Pace

Just minutes after setting a new 24-hour solo record, an encounter with an unidentified floating object forced Thomas Coville’s 105-ft trimaran Sodeb’O to retire from its singlehanded round-the-world attempt. After covering 619 miles at an average speed of 25.8 knots, Coville reports he was down below when he felt the boat slow dramatically — no doubt from the drag resulting from the absence of the starboard ama’s sacrificial ‘crash box’.

The ragged stump of Sodeb’O’s starboard ama.

© Thomas Coville

"I immediately went on deck and a saw a plume of water, which was nearly 10 feet above the starboard float, " Coville told his shore team. "In a matter of seconds, you understand what’s happening without knowing how."

Coville expressed doubt that the damage was a result of a collision with a growler, as has been widely reported.

"A few moments later, I saw a piece of ice, but I think the impact would have been more severe, more violent if I’d hit ice," he said.

Coville is now halfway between the Kerguelen Islands and Cape Town in South Africa. His intent is to sail the 1,300 miles back uphill to Cape Town, and subsequently back to France, where his sponsor Sodeb’O, a French food company, has expressed support for another go around-the-world.

Meanwhile, Francis Joyon and IDEC anticipate getting into the South Atlantic trades soon, after fighting through a debilitating St. Helena High that’s slowed his progress for the last few days. Despite being hampered by the weather, Joyon is still well ahead of the current record pace and expressed dismay at Coville’s retirement.

"I’d like to congragulate Thomas on having taken the 24 hour record from me," Joyon said. "I imagine that Thomas must feel frustrated, and personally I am disappointed to have lost a competitor and the sporting motivation that this represents."

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Looking south towards Angel Island from the Corinthian YC race deck: At high tide the storm surge could barely be contained.
When we receive reports of boats washing up on distant shores, we do our best to verify as many facts as possible but often must rely on eyewitness reports.