Frenchman Thomas Coville sets around-the-world sailing record in 49 days

Dec. 25, 2016: French skipper of Thomas Coville poses for a photo with a placard which reads "49 days, 3 hours, 38 seconds" as he sails along the French island Ouessant, southwestern end of the English Channel. (AP)

PARIS - A little over 49 days - that’s all it took Frenchman Thomas Coville to sail around the world alone, to set what French officials say is a new world record.

Coville, 48, sailed into the Brittany port of Brest on Monday on his Sodebo trimaran. He rejoined his family, weeping with joy, thanked his support crews and showered the seas with champagne.

His round-the-world journey, starting from an island in the English Channel, took 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds, according to his website.

It was Coville’s third attempt to beat the previous record of 57 days held by Frenchman Francis Joyon since 2008. The record before that, of 71 days, had been held by British sailor Ellen MacArthur, who set it at age 28.

Joyon, in a statement, was among those congratulating Coville.


Frenchman sets round-the-world sailing record: 49 days


PARIS –  A little over 49 days — that's all it took Frenchman Thomas Coville to sail around the world alone, to set what French officials say is a new world record.

Coville sailed into the Brittany port of Brest on Monday on his Sodebo trimaran. He rejoined his family, weeping with joy, thanked his support crews and showered the seas with champagne.

His round-the-world journey, starting from an island in the English Channel, took 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds, according to his website.

It was Coville's third attempt to beat the previous record of 57 days held by Frenchman Francis Joyon since 2008. The record before that, of 71 days, had been held by British sailor Ellen MacArthur.

Joyon, in a statement, was among those congratulating Coville.


'Dreams are possible' says Frenchman Thomas Coville after smashing round-the-world solo sailing record by eight days

Frenchman Thomas Coville has smashed the round-the-world unassisted solo sailing record by a stunning eight days, in a Christmas feat he said he hoped would teach humans never to be "fooled into thinking things will be worse tomorrow".

An armada of vessels  - including one carrying his wife and son - came out to meet Mr Coville off Brest, western France, on Monday morning. The 48-year-old received a hero's welcome with champagne upon touching dry land, becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe alone in a boat in under 50 days.

"Great dreams never come off first time. I tried, I failed, I fell, I picked myself up again, I rebuilt myself," he said by way of explaining his extraordinary success.

He had crossed the official finish line in Ushant, an island in the southwestern English Channel, at 5.57pm local time on Sunday after a trip that took just 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds.

The previous record of 57 days and 13 hours had been held by fellow Frenchman Francis Joyon since January 2008 - a performance already considered exceptional at the time.

Before that, it was held by Britain's Dame Ellen MacArthur, who took 71 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes in 2005. Her Australian-constructed, 23-metre trimaran had been specifically designed to accommodate her diminutive stature of 5 feet and 2 inches.

This was the fourth fastest time for any circumnavigation on a yacht, including those with as many as ten crew.

It was a highly risky venture given the huge size of his Sodebo Ultim trimaran - a 31-metre long and 21-metre wide craft equipped with a 35-metre high mast carrying up to 680 square metres of sail area.

"Nothing else in the world resembles this exercise. It requires total focus. It's severe and extremely violent and that's what's so magnificent about it," said famed French skipper Olivier de Kersauson. "With a multi-hull, if you get it wrong, you're dead."

After a decade and five failed attempts, Mr Coville's sixth almost foundered at one point when he narrowly averted a head-on collision with a whale. "We must have seen each other at the same time. I swerved, the boat veered sideways. For a moment I expected the worst. It could have ended there," he recalled.Tossed by winds of up to 45 knots, he described his boat as like "a dragonfly" skating on the water whose threat of capsizing was so great he could sleep for no more than 30 minutes at a stretch.

Hours before arriving, he told Le Parisien his dream was to rest "while telling myself 'all is well' and not 'if the boat tips over, you're dead.'."

Once on dry land, he slept for four hours , calling it "the slumber of a child with no inkling of adult concerns, one I haven't had in 30 years".

British sailor Samantha Davies was among his land-based support team who followed his perilous course round the clock from France. "I wouldn't say there was one particularly tense moment. It was tense throughout," she said. "On a boat like Sodebo, small things can quickly become very complicated. Our job was to help him find solutions, but often he found them first."

Weather conditions were initially highly favorable, allowing him to smash the record for crossing the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and the Equators, but there were some unstable spells in the South Atlantic and a tough drop in pressure in the North Atlantic.

"My story is about a guy who one day believes he can do it, who one day makes good his dream," he told Le Parisien.

"I want to tell people: Don't be fooled by those who tell you that things will be worse tomorrow, that the other scares you. That's their bread and butter. Mine is to tell people that dreams are possible. Perhaps my dream will unleash other dreams."

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