The world record for sailing solo around the world now bears the name of one of the most famous authors and adventurers of all times. The creation of this new Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Trophy pays tribute to the pioneering spirit and sense of commitment, characteristics of the life and work of the writer-cum-aviator, values of which the navigators of the Ultim 32/23 class giant trimarans are the true heirs.
On 8 February 2019, at École Militaire in Paris, the first Antoine de Saint Exupéry Trophy for achieving a world record for sailing solo around the globe was presented by Hervé de Saint-Exupéry, Vice-President of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, to Thomas Coville, skipper of the Sodebo trimaran, who in December 2016 broke the previous record held by fellow countryman Francis Joyon in 2008 by more than eight days: he made the journey in just 49 days, three hours and four minutes.
Then, like a relay race, French sailor Thomas Coville presented this new Trophy to François Gabart, skipper of the Macif trimaran, who is nicknamed “The little prince of the oceans”. He set a new world record for sailing solo around the globe in December 2017 in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds, improving Coville’s record by more than six days. In other words, that’s an improvement of the world record of more than 15 days in one year.
This important ceremony took place in the presence of several very important civil and military personalities, such as Claudie Haigneré, French astronaut and chairwoman of the patronage committee of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, Dorine Bourneton, pilot and ambassador of the Foundation, Catherine Le Mounier, great-niece of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and sailor, and her husband Jean-François, representative of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – d’Agay Estate, Patricia Brochard, chairwoman of the association Antoine de Saint Exupéry Trophy – World record for sailing solo around the globe and chairwoman of Sodebo, Abel Sevellec, secretary of the Saint-Exupéry Association and volunteer of the Foundation, sports journalist and TV presenter Denis Brogniart, actor and theatre playwright Jacques Gamblin and General Guillaume Letalenet.
The creation of the Trophy falls under the scope of a cultural and philanthropic approach, thanks to a partnership sealed with the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation, which supports educational and sociocultural projects for youth in France and worldwide, while respecting the humanist values of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2019.
“It’s a very inspirational trophy name and I think that it will now be easier for the general public to understand the different major sailing records as a team or solo,” indicates François Gabart. “I discovered Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s books when I was seven years old. The Little Prince was offered to me by my sister who read a lot. What he expresses in terms of travel and adventure is very inspiring. I am proud today to hold such a record and I wish to be able to enjoy it a little bit before it’s my turn to hand it over because records are made to be broken!’.
It was Thomas Coville who was the first to evoke the name of the author of The Little Prince during when coming up with the name for this new Trophy. The skipper explains, ‘His writings about flight, his adventures and his stories echo inside me and inspired me a lot. What he experienced corresponds well with the lineage of sailors who have attempted and broken the record of sailing solo around the world.’
The Trophy is inscribed with a quote extracted from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book, Terre des Hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars): “Man discovers himself when he measures himself against the obstacle.” Without a doubt, the pioneering spirit of Saint-Exupéry now glides above the oceans!
Articles & Radio Interviews :
RADIO CLASSIQUE :
Interview of François Gabart by the journalist Remi Pelletier on « Chronique Nautisme » broadcasted on 02-17-2019 (french)
Interview of Thomas Coville by the journalist Remi Pelletier on « Chronique Nautisme » broadcasted on 02-23-2019 (french)
Photos & diaporama : © Bernard Le Bars/Classe Ultim 32/23
Photo 01 : French skippers François Gabart and Thomas Coville
Photo 02 : François Gabart and Thomas Coville with the guests of the awards ceremony of the 1st Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Trophy
Photo 03 : Thomas Coville with Lieutenant-Colonel Hervé de Saint-Exupéry
Photo 04 : François Gabart and French astronaut Claudie Haigneré
Photo 05 : François Gabart, Thomas Coville, Claudie Haigneré, Hervé de Saint-Exupéry and Hélène Pichon
Photo 06 : François Gabart presents his Trophy
Photo 07 : Abel Sevellec offers the Quarto edition (Gallimard) of the works of Saint-Exupéry to François Gabart and Thomas Coville
Photo 08 : François Gabart and Thomas Coville with representatives of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation
Photo 09 : The Antoine de Saint Exupéry Trophy – World record for sailing solo around the globe
Photo 10 : François Gabart and Thomas Coville with representatives of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation and the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Trophy association