Video: Sodebo Ultim smashes round-the-world solo sailing record

2017-01-04By Chris Jefferies

The 31 metre trimaran Sodebo_ Ultim_ has smashed the record for a single-handed circumnavigation with French sailor Thomas Coville at the helm.

Sodebo Ultim arrived into Brest on December 26 to complete the voyage in 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds, shaving more than eight days off Francis Joyon’s record, which had stood for eight years.

This incredible achievement required Coville to sail across more than 28,000 nautical miles of open ocean on the bare minimum of sleep. Speaking after his arrival, the 48-year-old told Le Parisien: “Mentally I had my highs and my lows but I knew where I wanted to get to. Physically I could not have gone much further.”

Launched by Multiplast in 2001 as Geronimo, Sodebo Ultim is a former Jules Verne record holder. She was refitted in 2013 in collaboration with VPLP Design and now sports a full set of 3DI and NPL sails by North, which gave Coville a wide range of options for dealing with the varied conditions that he faced on his solo circumnavigation.

Sail designer Gautier Sergent worked in collaboration with sail coordinator, Loic Le Mignon and North Sails expert, Quentin Ponroy to design this flexible set-up.

Coville had made five previous attempts before breaking the record, and his 49-day solo circumnavigation now ranks as the fifth fastest round-the-world voyage by any sailing boat.

“Sailing these boats is tough, they are unforgiving,” he added. “If you lose your concentration for two minutes, the boat will take over, and you risk breaking equipment in what quickly spirals into life-threatening situations. You can not back off and 49 days of intense sailing is a long time to maintain your mental focus and physical strength.”

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