New York, USA- One record on and one attempt off… Following more than two days at sea, François Gabart 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, the MACIF skipper has succeeded in adding a new 24-hour record to his many accomplishments. He achieved this on Sunday, when he logged 785 miles at an average of 32.7 knots!
François Gabart left on Friday night 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), and he 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 François Gabart renouncing this attempt as a result.
“We knew it would be difficult from the start, because we only had a small window. Looking at conditions now, I have to admit that the weather has not developed favourably”, said the skipper on Monday morning. This decision is also dictated by the need for caution. The storms on Saturday resulted in a few electronic problems on board the trimaran, particularly the autopilot. “The autopilot stopped working twice without warning. 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”, continued François.
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. 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.”
24-hour record at an average of 32.7 knots!
MACIF returns from New York with another performance under its belt, the 24-hour record, after a crazy cavalcade between Saturday and Sunday. The boat finally logged 785 miles in 24 hours, at an average of 32.7 knots. François 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 (718.5at 29.93 knots). Naturally he feels great satisfaction. “I feel great pride in holding this record. 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.
*Currently being approved by the World Sailing Speed Record Council