In 2008, when Francis Joyon set a new solo around-the-world benchmark of 57 days and 13 hours — knocking 14 days off the previous record — some thought his feat would be unbeatable. But not fellow French sailor Thomas Coville, 48. With his arrival at l’île d’Ouessant, France, Sunday aboard his massive maxi tri Sodebo Ultim’, he shaved a week off Joyon’s time, finishing his sprint around the planet in 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds. Simply amazing! It was his third attempt since 2009.
Needless to say, Coville received an exuberant welcome from his sailing-crazy countrymen and was hailed as a hero in the yachting press around the world. Upon arrival, he was quoted as saying that he was "exhausted, even completely emptied," after enduring seven weeks alone on the ocean, traveling at speeds almost unimaginable to mere mortals. Can his record be broken? If past performances are any indication, it may only be a matter of time.
Meanwhile, offshore racing fans the world over have been having a feast of excitement in recent days, as a new record was set in last weekend’s Sydney-Hobart, the Vendée Globe leaders have rounded Cape Horn, and Joyon and crew are attempting to break the Trophée Jules Verne world record. Look for more on all these efforts here and in the pages of Latitude 38.