Atlantic Ocean – In sailing 818 nautical miles from Monday to Tuesday afternoon, a figure that may yet change this evening, François Gabart has overtaken the legendary limit.
He 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 3 July 2016. What was his average? 34 knots, i.e. 63 km/h!
What does he think of this? “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”.
When François Gabart left Brest on Saturday 4 November, at 10:05 AM, he was spared any technical incidents. The first real alert came on Monday, 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 happily, during a radio session this Tuesday, at the Macif headquarters, in Niort, at which many of the group’s employees attended. He also 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”.