Brest : Frenchman Francois Gabart smashed the world record for the fastest solo navigation of the globe on Sunday, completing the mammoth feat in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.
The 34-year-old sailor crossed a virtual finish line drawn between the island of Ushant off France’s northwest tip and Lizard Point in southwest England at 0145 GMT, comfortably beating the previous record set by compatriot Thomas Coville by six days and 10 hours.
The race time was announced by an observer from the World Sailing Speed Council but will be subject to checks of the boat’s black box and its GPS data before final confirmation.
Father of two and and engineer by trade, Gabart becomes just the fourth title-holder for a world record of sailing the globe solo.
Moments before crossing the finish line Gabart, sent out an emotional video showing his boat’s progress on a computer monitor. “The little blue is us, the red line is the finish. We should cut it soon, the computer says 30 seconds,” he said, wiping his eyes.
“I’m happy and proud to have made this lovely voyage around the world,” he said in the video.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet but I know it’s a great time. I have cargo ships and fishing boats around me in the dark here and it all seems strange and extraordinary.”
Helped by good weather throughout much of the voyage, particularly during the long and arduous Pacific section, it clocked up jaw-dropping speeds of up to 35 knots (65 kilometres an hour).
He set a number of new solo race records along the way, including the fastest navigation of the Pacific (7 days, 15 hours, 15 minutes) and the longest distance covered in 24 hours (851 miles or 1,576 kms).
The debut record holder was Frenchman Francis Joyon who completed the odyssey in 72 days and 22 hours.
British female sailor Ellen MacArthur took to the seas a year later, racing against the clock to break that record by just a day and a half (71 days, 14 hours).
She remained undefeated until 2016 when Coville set a new record of 49 days and three hours. –AFP
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