Please select your home edition
Edition
Sea Sure 2020 - SHOCK-WBV - LEADERBOARD

Thomas Colville sets new Solo Round the World record

by Mark Jardine 25 Dec 2016 18:41 GMT 25 December 2016
Thomas Colville sets a singlehanded round the world record of 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes, 38 seconds © Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Sodebo

At 16h 57mn 30s GMT on Christmas Day, Thomas Coville crossed the finish line situated some six miles offshore of Le Créac'h lighthouse on the island of Ushant (Finistère), to complete the singlehanded round the world race against the clock under sail aboard a multihull, the large trimaran Sodebo Ultim'.

In so doing, he set a new singlehanded record in a time of 49 days 3 hours 7 minutes and 38 seconds (subject to approval by the WSSRC), improving on the previous record set by Francis Joyon by 8 days 10h 26 mn and 28s. Thomas covered 28,400 miles at a remarkable average speed of 24.10 knots (52,596 kilometres at 44km/h).

In the half-light of the remains of a day obscured by a mist that totally enveloped the cliffs of the Breton island of Ushant, the 48-year old skipper put in two last gybes (change of tack with the wind on the stern, which is a manoeuvre as technical as it is physical) before finally enjoying deliverance. Right till the last, he drove his 31-metre long, 21-metre wide trimaran at an infernal pace, sparing no effort in manoeuvring his massive boat as if he was sailing fully crewed. Along the way, the solo sailor secured the third best time around the world, whether it be contested in singlehanded or crewed configuration (1).

On 6 November 2016 at 13:49 GMT, Thomas set sail on his fifth attempt at breaking the record set by Francis Joyon in January 2008 of 57 days and 13 hours. This performance was quite simply exceptional at the time. The skipper of the trimaran Idec greatly improved on the record held up to that point by Briton, Ellen MacArthur. In fact, it's worth noting that there are only three people in the world to have dared to attack the singlehanded, non-stop, unassisted round the world record aboard a multihull: Francis Joyon, Ellen MacArthur and Thomas Coville.

After seven weeks at a furious pace, Thomas Coville has pulled off a crazy gamble: singlehandedly driving his 31-metre long and 21-metre wide trimaran equipped with a 35-metre high mast carrying up to 680 square metres of sail area, to become the fastest man around the world in solo configuration.

  • Distance covered over the ground: 28,400 nautical miles
  • Average speed: 24.09 knots (18.32 knots along the Great Circle route)

In addition to the Solo Round the World Record, Thomas Coville has bagged three other records (Indian Ocean Record*, Pacific Ocean Record* and Equator/Equator Record*) and eight reference times.

  • Finish off Ushant: Sunday 25 December at 16h 57min 30 sec GMT
  • Solo Round the World time: 49 days 3 hours 7 minutes 38 seconds* 28,400 miles covered at an average of 24.09 knots (18.32 knots along the Great Circle route)
  • Delta in relation to IDEC: lead of 8 days 10 hours 26 minutes 28 seconds

Indian Ocean Record* (Cape Agulhas/Tasmania): 8d 12h 19m
Pacific Ocean Record* (Tasmania/Cape Horn): 8d 18h 28m 30s
Equator/Equator Record*: 35 days 21 hours 38 min 6 sec

* awaiting approval from the WSSRC

Thomas Coville will spend the night at sea with his shore crew, who joined him two hours after crossing the line. We contacted him by telephone. He told us about the minutes that follow the conclusion of such a feat:

The finish

"Nobody was planning to sail a sub-50-day time in solo configuration. The finish is something that builds in you, something very dense. It's a very weighty sensation that overwhelms you. I felt a sense of anguish about the final hours, of the final days, of hitting something and all that was putting pressure on me. All of this was combined with a great deal of fatigue. My sleep deprivation is very real.

"It's a very big day for me both as an athlete and as a man. I'm proud of the journey I've been on to get to this point. I've fallen, I've picked myself up and all that has given me this mental strength. Experience is what one does with one's failures. I can say today that I've enhanced the value of them.

"That's what I'm proud of."

A colossal amount of work to get to this stage

"Forcing yourself to put in so many manoeuvres means that we're not far off the crewed records. Sometimes I had blood in my mouth as I carried sails, which weigh 150kg and are full of water that you have to drag 10cm at a time on a moving trampoline. There were nights outside, laid out in the cockpit, in the cold with a sheet in your hand, ready to ease it if the boat flies a hull too high. It's not a very elegant job, but it works. With the speeds you reach, you're always on a razor's edge. You have highs and lows. The South Atlantic was very hard. I managed to content myself with minor victories on a daily level. Physically, I cannot take it any further."

And now?

"Right now, I want just one thing: to sleep and let my mind rest. I want to go to sleep telling myself: All's well!"

Patricia Brochard, Co-President of Sodebo:

Heading out to welcome the boat in and pay homage to Thomas Coville's performance, Patricia Brochard, Co-President of Sodebo made no secret of her delight at the passage of the line:

"I feel a great sense of relief and pride. I'm happy and it's a happiness shared with Thomas' teams, with his family, with the media and the team who take care of the communication. I'm happy for the company and the employees. With this record, Thomas is highlighting the values that we all share together. What's beautiful is the journey you take to get here, everything that you put in place to build a story. The result is a consequence of this."

Related Articles

4 day lead for Thomas Coville on Sodebo Ultim'
In solo circumnavigation record attempt On Thursday 8 December 2016 at 01:20 GMT this morning, Thomas Coville, skipper of the trimaran Sodebo Ultim', rounded Cape Horn with a lead of 4 days 59 minutes over the time set by Francis Joyon, solo round the world record holder since 2008. Posted on 8 Dec 2016
Sodebo crosses the finish line
After 61 days and 7 minutes at sea After setting out on Saturday 29 January at 11h0728 (GMT) on the solo round the world record attempt, the skipper of SODEBO crossed the finish line off Ushant today, Thursday 31 March 2011 at 12h15 (GMT). Posted on 31 Mar 2011
The sequence of events
In Sodebos circumnavigation Eleven weeks after finishing the Route du Rhum with a podium place, Thomas Coville headed back out to sea aboard Sodebo for a third solo round the world record attempt. Posted on 26 Mar 2011
No springtime for Thomas Coville on Sodebo
Sodebo crosses the Equator Having set off to tackle the solo round the world record some 52 days ago, the skipper of Sodebo is having to face another meteorological barrier on his journey back to Europe. Posted on 22 Mar 2011
Collision for Thomas Coville on Sodebo
Damage to the crash box At 1540 GMT, Thomas Coville was involved in a collision with no direct impact on the boats ability to make headway. Posted on 10 Mar 2011
Coville passes Cape Horn
Up against the clock on Sodebo “Its incredible. Im rounding the Horn with you. Im with Neutrogena (Editors note: one of the monohulls from the Barcelona World Race) which is just 50 metres from me! Its the first time Ive passed so close to the Horn. Im 200 metres away.” Posted on 8 Mar 2011
Attacking the Pacific
28 days at sea for Thomas Coville on Sodebo After 28 days at sea and now at the midway point in his race against the clock, Tom looks back at his descent of the Atlantic and his passage across the Indian Ocean. Posted on 27 Feb 2011
Cape of Good Hope astern
For Thomas Coville on Sodebo Powering through driving rain and 32 knots of SWly wind, Sodebo rounded the Cape of Good Hope this Tuesday at 1702 GMT after 17 days, 5 hours, 54 minutes and 32 seconds at sea. Posted on 15 Feb 2011
Coville sets off around the world
On maxi trimaran Sodebo Thomas Coville, skipper of Sodebo, crossed the start line today, Saturday 29 January 2011, at 11h0728 UTC. To beat Francis Joyons record, he will have to be back in Brest by 28 March at 0h4034” UTC. Posted on 29 Jan 2011
Foils and a new livery
For maxi-trimaran SodebO A month from the completion of a long and important refit which has already stretched over four months, the maxi trimaran is beginning to reveal her new look. Posted on 18 Mar 2010