Record breaking day for Gabart

Published on November 14th, 2017

(November 14, 2017; Day 11, 20:00 FR) – After crossing the Equator in just under 6 days, François Gabart has gained considerable speed in his attempt to set a new single-handed round the world time.

Since he entered the South Atlantic and now has the Cape of Good Hope in his sights, the skipper of the 30m MACIF trimaran has even improved on his own record for the distance sailed in 24 hours.

Gabart is 503.22 nm ahead of the record pace after covering 836.1 in the past 24 hours (avg. of 34.84 knots).

Gabart pushed the MACIF trimaran hard to avoid being caught in strong winds behind him and in doing so he became the first single-handed sailor to sail a distance of over 800 miles inside 24 hours. He has pulverized his own record of 784 miles, dating back to July 3, 2016.

“I’m delighted. Records are made to be beaten. That’s how you progress. The sensations at these speeds are pretty extraordinary. The boat flies and there’s a blend of power and lightness.” Not the sort of guy to rest on his laurels, the skipper of the MACIF trimaran immediately added: “It’s not the main goal right now. The idea is to finish this round the world first.”

Since Gabart left Brest on November 4, he has been spared any technical incidents, with the first real alert coming yesterday when a mainsail batten broke, forcing him to haul it in and begin a quick repair job which went well.

“The batten broke forward (near the mast). Nine centimetres were missing. As there was a little extra astern, I managed to push it forwards. The sailing is not perfectly taut, but it’s by no means a bad job. I wanted to avoid sailing with a broken batten as the wind was lifting, as it could have torn the sail and damaged the mast.

“Often, small do-it-yourself jobs like that don’t deteriorate too much if you catch them in time. I have now dealt with the worst of the problem,” said the MACIF skipper who praised the speed at which his team reacted when the damage was identified. “When there’s this sort of technical problem, because they know the trimaran so well, they are quicker off the mark than I am, when it comes to finding solutions. It’s “Hello Houston, we have a problem!” and back on shore they think of solutions that I work on at sea.”

Gabart, who noticed the temperature had lowered by ten degrees in 24 hours, entered the Roaring Forties at midday. These are the latitudes of the Great South and he will stay with them for some time.

“It’s the start of a long conveyor belt that will take me to the Cape Horn, in places where you really can’t come about. It’s wonderful to be able to sail in places like this at high speed for days on end.”

The last routings show him rounding the Cape of Good Hope, the first of three legendary capes, on Thursday morning (Nov 16), setting a time of approximately 12 days. This is roughly two days less than Thomas Coville, the round the world record holder, who rounded it in 14 days, 04 hours, and 44 minutes last year.

“I’m a dreamer, but honestly, 12 days? I wouldn’t have dared believe it in my wildest dreams. When we looked at hypotheses at the start, we said that if we reached Good Hope in the same time as Thomas, or even a day later, we would be happy.

“It’s great to start with a small lead, because this gives us a better chance in the miles to come. Anything is a plus. Now, we just need to stay lucid. There’s a long way to go yet. I hope the success will stay with us for the route to come.”

Despite only two and a half hours of sleep in 24 hours, between yesterday and today, Gabart remains in good shape. “The business with the mainsail didn’t stop me from sleeping, because it didn’t last long. It was more because the waves shook me about. But I slept well enough to be properly in form. The rest of the time, I remained lying down, which rested my muscles, especially as I didn’t manoeuvre much these last days; just one change of sail.”

His physical condition is fine, and his mental condition is as good as ever, which will be important when he tackles the Great South, the centrepiece of this round the world.

Only three sailors to date (Francis Joyon, Ellen MacArthur, Thomas Coville) have ever held the record. After his start on November 4, to beat the record of 49 days, 3 hours, 4 minutes and 28 seconds held by Coville since December 25, 2016, Gabart will need to cross the finishing line (between Créac’h lighthouse, in Ouessant (Ushant), and the Lizard Point lighthouse in Cornwall, England) before 13.09 on December 23 (French time, UTC+1).

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Source: Macif team

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