French Sailor Circumnavigates the World in Record Time

Francis Joyon broke the around-the-world solo sailing record Sunday, finishing in 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, 6 seconds — more than 14 days faster than Ellen MacArthur's 2005 journey.

The 51-year-old Frenchman completed the circumnavigation off the French Atlantic coast soon after midnight, according to his Web site. He was to arrive in Brest later Sunday.

For two months, Joyon skirted the southern reaches of the globe in his 29-meter, 9-ton trimaran IDEC, sleeping only in short spells and grappling with fierce wind and a damaged mast.

"He has been in racing form the whole time," said Jean-Yves Bernot, Joyon's on-land navigator.

British sailor MacArthur, then 28, beat Joyon's previous record in 2005 in 71 days, 14:18:33 on her boat Castorama. That was just one day faster than Joyon's previous time, also in the vibrant red IDEC.

This time, Joyon started out in Brest on Nov. 23, then looped under South Africa and Australia and Chile before heading back for the French shore.

He broke several intermediary records along the way. He crossed the Indian Ocean in 9 days, 12 hours, and crossed the Pacific in 10 days, 14 hours.

He went faster all alone between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Leeuwin in Australia than Bruno Peyron and his full team traveled during in their victorious around-the-world trip in 2003.

In the Pacific, Joyon detoured as far south as 58 degrees, toward a patch of glaciers, to avoid fierce wind farther north, Bernot said.

Rough wind and then damage to a girder supporting the mast forced Joyon to slow down when he got to the Atlantic.

He climbed the 105-foot mast to make repairs himself, but was worried until the end of the journey that it could snap again, according to his Web site.

His boat had no standard electrical generators aboard, which meant he had no heat — but also meant the boat was lighter than usual. He used wind turbines and solar panels to allow for automatic piloting and communication equipment.

"With his maturity and also his mental and physical strength, Francis has the fantastic ability to adapt to all conditions and to give the best of himself when he is in difficulty," fellow sailor Thomas Coville, who recently abandoned his own attempt to challenge the same record, was quoted as saying the Web site of his sponsor, Sodebo.

Groupama 3 sailor Franck Cammas told The AP that Joyon "chose an excellent window of weather" and "made very, very few errors."

Joyon crossed an imaginary finish line between France's Ouessant Island and the Lizard peninsula off England's southwest coast, and later Sunday was expected to be feted in Brest at a ceremony including supporters and sailors from around the world.