Got to take my hat off to Thomas Coville, famous French singlehander attempting in his trimaran Sodebo to set a new round the world record, currently held by Francis Joyon in a time of 57 days, 13 hours 34 minutes and 6 seconds. Now, some people have called me a luddite (they were the ones who smashed the new-fangled looms in the early days of the Industrial Revolution). No, I would never have condoned that, as alongside a full-blown wallow-in-it nostalgia for the old ways, I really like innovation, and especially the really high-tech stuff.
I do not understand much of the detail, but when I see a wing-sailed trimaran or a 30ft carbon fibre racing boat, beautifully fashioned from the black stuff weighing 30kg, I am impressed. My thing is keeping alive the tradition of building boats in heavy old wood; but I am not blind to the fantastic craft, from kite boards to foiling multihulls, being developed in clinical sheds a million miles from the one where my boats gestate.
This trimaran of Coville's is quite a machine, but his attempt nearly ended before it began off Brest. How the hell he managed to stop the thing pitchpoling is beyond me. Now somewhere in the South Atlantic, trying to skirt its fickle and infuriating high, Coville and his trimaran Sodebo will soon have the Southern Ocean ahead. God only knows what inspires people to sail around the world alone in something as magnificently quick and potentially lethal as Sodebo.
I remember interviewing Alain Gautier, or was it Titouan Lamazou, before a Vendee Globe some years back, and asked him what he thought of spending 80 days alone on a boat. "What eez 80 days? Not even zree month. What is zree month in my life? What else should I do in zree month? It is nothing zree month...." or words to that effect. Moral being you can choose to spend three months going to work on a commuter train and watching TV in the evenings, or sail round the world. You have a choice and one life. Thomas, Titouan, Alain (and all the others who chase records in ludicrously fast boats. I salute you...