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2019-03-28 09:29

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  The flying Frenchman set to smash round the world record They are calling him the Bob Beamon of sailing. And just like Beamon, who astonished the world with his record-breaking long-jump in 1968, the French sailor Francis Joyon is rewriting the nautical record books in an unprecedented fashion. Joyon, 47, is now in the final stages of an incredible voyage and on course to smash the existing non-stop solo round-the-world record by 20 days. Once he crosses the finish line off the Channel port of Brest on the morning of February 3, he will have completed one of the greatest feats of single-handed sailing in history. Just like Beamon, whose leap at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 broke the world record by an almost unbelievable 21in - which stood unbeaten until 1991 - Joyon's expected time of 73 days for the 26,000-mile global course will have far exceeded what most thought possible for a solo sailor. Joyon set sail in November on an adventure some predicted would end in disaster. The father of four from La Trinité-sur-Mer in Brittany was undertaking the voyage in the 90ft trimaran IDEC, a boat of tremendous power with a huge rotating mast that had been built to be raced by a crew of up to ten. Many were worried that Joyon would end up exhausted and IDEC would simply flip over as she ran out of control in the Southern Ocean. Others predicted that Joyon would be unable to handle IDEC's enormous sails or that the boat could lose her mast in the rough conditions that any round-the-world sailor inevitably would face. There were also all the usual dangers - collision with debris in the water, with ice around Antarctica or the possibility that Joyon would collide with a ship while sleeping. When he set off, the solo record stood at 93 days. Although Joyon was sailing a much faster boat than the previous record-holder, most saw little chance of him getting even close to 80 days. Joyon had other ideas and over the past 71 days he has enjoyed good fortune with the weather, rarely running out of wind. He has, however, also displayed extraordinary stamina, determination and seamanship in keeping IDEC running close to her full potential.

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