The sexagenarian captain with a singular personality triumphed in front of François Gabart on Sunday in Pointe-à-Pitre.
Moored on the pontoon of the ACTe Pointe-à-Pitre Memorial, the maxi-trimaran Idec Sport suddenly turns into a dance floor. To the sound of the biniou and bombarde, for a recovery of brittany Army of the seven nations, the famous tube of the White Stripes, Francis Joyon shyly jumps on the trampoline of his boat, in the center of a round formed by his team and their close relations. Surprisingly, his wife Virginie tries to dictate the rhythm. The lover makes some efforts, but he remains somewhat stiff, like the menir with which he is often compared. Drunk with fatigue, but no rum – he just tasted the edge of the local drink in the glass stretched for the souvenir photo – Joyon, the discreet, is still taken by the great whirl of victory.
An exceptional sailor
At the age of 62, he has just written one of the most beautiful pages in the history of the transatlantic – and the great book of offshore races – during a legendary duel with François Gabart around the island of Guadalupe. After seven and a half days walking behind his brother new, Joyon managed to cover him on the scoreboard for seven minutes and eight seconds, thanks to a finish in front of the finish line. A master stroke. Under the lights of the camera he usually runs away, his eyes shine and the emotion comes out. "Deal with François was fascinating," he murmurs in his soft voice, which contrasts with the thickness of his trapezes and the impressive scouts with which he pulls the ends. It was really an extraordinary race. Sprinkled with an exceptional finish for a captain who is so good.
"Francis is an extraordinary sailor, tough for evil, sober and efficient," says Loïck Peyron, his predecessor on the rum list, who has just steal the record (7 days 14 hours 21 minutes and 47 seconds) for his seventh participation . He is also the solitary par excellence. Navigating the seas with only company of albatrosses, whales or flying fish, the winner of the Transat Anglaise (2000) became his specialty, he who reigned for so long as master of time around the world alone before Thomas Coville. François Gabart, in turn, has beaten the times.
Born far from the sea, at Hanches, at Eure-et-Loir in 1956, young Joyon outlined his circumnavigation dreams by reading the stories of Bernard Moitessier and then gave himself the chance to perform them during an internship. Glénans summer school that he will monitor later. Gifted with his hands, he built a 12.50-meter cutter in the family workshop before starting a career as a carpenter. The first trimaran of this exceptional, ingenious and inventive helper was built in the late 1980s, the result of an impressive Lego game made by him from parts of other multihulls. And his house in Locmariaquer did not see many craftsmen pass by.
"he fearless attack"
If he grew on the ground, Joyon became a marine mammal evolving in perfect harmony with a salty liquid element that never seems to dominate him. "He's at home at sea," confirms Gwénolé Gahinet, one of his five teammates during the Jules Verne Trophy win campaign in 2017 (40 days, 23 hours). In the south, he attacks without fear. In terms of stress management, it has almost innate qualities. He can handle high speeds for a long time while sleeping. He is amazing. "
"Francis, it's another culture"
Christian the Pope
If he confessed to needing rest after his transat test, the sailor with the logger's physique remains a UFO in the middle of the offshore race where he confronts, in machines of a crazy requirement on the physical level, the 1930s or the bodies of triathletes. "What Francis does at age 62 is exceptional. He is a force of nature with an extraordinary ability to survive," says Christian Le Pape, director of Finistère Pole Ocean Racing. A circle of performances where Gabart, Josse, and Le Cléacé are moving away and Joyon walks away. "We never see him, it's not his thing, Francis, it's another culture, he's separate," Le Pape continues, "but that requires deep respect among all its competitors."
And an unrestrained admiration for Patrice Lafargue, who has been funding her projects since 2002. "I'm in love with Francis, who misses with a big smile the CEO of Idec, an SME specializing in commercial, real estate or residential real estate.He's an unusual man, a little introvert that expresses itself above all else at sea without seeking glory.For his owner, one of Joyon's strengths lies in his multi-tasking and self-confident personality. "At home, Francisco takes care of everything. He is a mechanic, painter and navigator from time to time. He does not need a great team. Either way, he could not bear it. For a sponsor like us, it's ideal. "
"The future? Francis will choose
What about the future of the sexagenarian after a beautiful rum? "I do not say anything," he smiled on Sunday night. The first edition of the world round of solo races (Brest ocean), scheduled in a year and whose timing is questioned after the Utimes break, is not relevant in Idec Sport. For a while. "Francis is still green and the boat is in the game with an opportunity to make it even more powerful," says Patrice Lafargue. Francis will choose. To push the boundaries of time or not again.