I don't usually write about racing but Francis Joyon is my favorite skipper and he left 4 days / 4 hours ago from Brest (France) for a single handed round the world tour aboard IDEC. Ellen MacArthur still holds the record aboard CASTORAMA with 71 days, 18 minutes and 33 seconds in 2005. A record she took away from Francis Joyon aboard IDEC in 2004 with 72 days, 24 hours and 22 seconds. A record Francis Joyon had prepared with an old boat (27 meter catamaran ex Sport Elec to be handled by a crew not single handed), a very little budget and the help of friends. Anyway they are both great single handed long distance competitors.
This time Francis Joyon left Brest with a brand new mega trimaran : 29.7 meter LOA, 16.5 beam, anda 32 meter high mast. This amazing carbon trimaran has been designed by the famous Nigel Irens and his french associate Benoit Cabaret. The two have designed great racing multhihulls including Ellen Mac Arthur's 75 foot B&Q/CASTORAMA. Francis Joyon asked Nigel Irens to design a very simple boat, easy to handle for a solo circum navigator but powerful and fast enough to beat Ellen's record : quite a challenge for a designer. The result is this very long catamaran with a limited width able to face southern passages without getting out of hand. Winches and equipment are reduced to a minimum, no heating system onboard, no thermic engines. Very far away from luxury catamaran !!!!!!! IDEC was buit by Marsaudon Composite shipyard in Lorient which is equiped with a very large air oven (27 m x 12 m x 6 m hight). The mast was built by Lorima (builder of the mega luxury catamaran GEMINI mast).
As I am writing this post IDEC is heading south at the amazing average daily distance of more than 500 miles, 280 head of Ellen Mac Arthur.
To bad news is IDEC's website in only in French so far. I got in touch with the PR manager of the IDEC group who told me they will soon have finished the translation I will keep you informed. You can still get connected and have a look at the great pictures and videos in the multimedia section.
(Pictures of IDEC by jm Liot/ddpi press and mer et media)
Another french skipper is on the starting block: Thomas Coville and his trimaran SODEBO, again a Nigel Irens' design but 32 meters long and built the Boat Speed shipyard in Australia. SODEBO has a great website but again only in french. Good luck to both of them.