Gabart Gets One out of Two Records
Published on July 4th, 2016
(July 4, 2016) – Following more than two days at sea on the 100-foot trimaran Macif, François Gabart (FRA) has decided to abandon his attempt to beat the north Atlantic record single-handed, due to unfavourable weather conditions on the second section of this course. However, Gabart had succeeded in adding a new 24-hour record to his many accomplishments, logging 785 miles at an average of 32.7 knots.
Gabart left the night of July 1 to attempt the north Atlantic crossing record between New York and Lizard Point, held by Francis Joyon since June 2013 (5 days, 2 hrs, 56 mins, and 10 secs). But he also knew that he would need luck on his side to establish a new reference time. The departure itself was difficult to negotiate, with many thunderstorms off New York, which delayed MACIF’s flight for a few hours. This delay finally had greater long-term consequences, since the window he had hoped for gradually closed up, with Gabart renouncing this attempt as a result.
“We knew it would be difficult from the start, because we only had a small window,” explained Gabart. “Looking at conditions now, I have to admit that the weather has not developed favourably.” To break the record, Gabart would have needed to arrive at Lizard Point before Thursday, July 7 (UT+1) on 05H 14’ 55’’ (French time UT+1).
This decision is also dictated by the need for caution. The storms on July 2 resulted in a few electronic problems on board the trimaran, particularly the autopilot. “The autopilot stopped working twice without warning,” Gabart reported. “I was able to take action in both instances to take over steering, but I do not think it would be a good idea to continue sailing at top speed with the sword of Damocles hanging over me. I do not want to take any unnecessary risk with regard to the boat.”
In the end, it has been a learning experience for the skipper of the MACIF trimaran. This is his first attempt at the record between New York and Lizard Point. “I knew it was not going to be easy,” Gabart admitted. “Two years ago, Banque Populaire and Armel Le Cleac’h couldn’t get a window. We nearly experienced the same thing. When this small window was forecast, it was really worth giving it a shot. In the end there was very little in it. We were just a few thunderstorms short. This record is really difficult, but that’s what makes it so interesting and you need to be patient to beat it.”
Despite the failed Atlantic crossing record, the 24-hour record – which needs to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council – remains a notable achievement. The boat finally logged 785 miles in 24 hours between June 2 and 3 at an average of 32.7 knots. Franois Gabart is the first to have exceeded 30 knots single-handed in this length of time. The previous record, dating back three weeks, was established by Thomas Coville (718.5 at 29.93 knots).
“I feel great pride in holding this record,” said Gabart. “I jumped at the opportunity to beat it when the window opened. It is not an easy record, because you need the right weather conditions over 24 hours. We were fortunate to have a fairly stable wind. On the other hand, in the first 12 hours, the sea was quite choppy, which made me think that I could probably sail faster and hold 33 to 34 knots on average with a calmer sea. However, just being able to sail for 24 hours at full speed is pure pleasure and it reveals the full potential of this boat.”
François Gabart now not only holds the 24-hour record single-handed on a multihull, but also on a monohull, with 545.34 miles logged on the 60 foot IMOCA MACIF in the last Vendée Globe, which he won. “I feel like a boxer with two world championship belts”, he concludes.
MACIF trimaran 2016 programme
July 13–19: Brest Maritime Festival
September/October: On standby for Mediterranean Record attempt
MACIF trimaran specs
Official name: MACIF
Construction: CDK Technologies (project management), Multiplast (Central hull, mainsheet traveller)
Launch date: 18 August 2015
Length: 30 m
Beam: 21 m
Max draught: 4.5 m
Number of centreboards: 3
Air draught: 35 m
Sail area upwind: 430 m²
Sail area downwind: 650m² (777 sq. yd.)
Source: Service presse trimaran MACIF