On reflection at this time of year, one can only think about the incredible achievements of many sailors in 2017. But none can be more awe inspiring than that of Francois Gabart. Our monthly hero slot is awarded to this French RTW sailor, who recently broke the solo, round the world sailing record with a time of 42 days, 16hrs, 40mins and 35secs – slashing a massive six days and 10hrs off the existing record! *(yet to be ratified by the WSSC)
This is an incredible accomplishment. Sailing on his 30M Macif Trimaran, he produced distances ranging from 730 to 846 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 27.8 knots – AVERAGE is the key word here. He topped out at 39 knots and to have an average speed of 27 odd knots, Francois needed to maintain speeds well in excess of that for long periods – fresh to frightening – especially in the turbulent, tumultuous Southern Ocean.
It is close to 12 months since Thomas Coville set a world record of 49:3:7:38, taking an impressive 8:10:26:28 off Francis Joyon’s previous record from 2008. As Skipper of IDEC Sport, Joyon and his crew still hold the Jules Verne Trophy for the 22,461 theoretical miles in 40 days, 23 hours, 30 minutes and 30 seconds, at an average speed of 22.84 knots. Out on the water, they actually sailed 26,412 miles at an average speed of 26.85 knots.
Gabart becomes the fourth person to hold the record after Joyon, Ellen MacArthur and Coville.
Pictures: Vincent Curutchet, Jean-Marie Liot / ALEA / MACIF