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Frenchman breaks new record for sailing solo around the world

  • Sabine Colpart

    Agence France-Presse

Brest, France | Sun, December 17, 2017 | 10:04 pm
 Frenchman breaks new record for sailing solo around the world  French skipper Francois Gabart celebrates sails his trimaran Macif upon his arrival at the end of his solo around the world navigation, on Dec. 17, 2017 in Brest, western France. Frenchman Francois Gabart smashed the world record for the fastest solo navigation of the globe, in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds. (Agence France -Presse/Damien Meyer)

French sailor François Gabart smashed six days and 10 hours off sailing's around the world record on Sunday producing what many pundits felt was a previously unthinkable time of 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

Huge crowds of well-wishers were on hand to welcome the sailor into the port of Brest, accompanied by dozens of small craft as he burned flares at the helm and was carried aloft to shore by his ground crew where he popped a bottle of champagne.

"I'm aching all over and it's been like that for weeks, weeks since a proper sleep, I can hardly go on," an exhausted Gabart told the press on his ecstatic arrival in port.

"I've been at sea all alone for 40-days and now suddenly I'm surrounded by everyone here it's amazing, I really only thought I had a slender chance of breaking the record," he claimed.

"It was hard and I was on the very edge of things the whole time."

The 34-year-old sailor crossed a virtual finish line between the island of Ushant off France's northwest tip and Lizard Point in southwest England at 0145 GMT, ripping to shreds the previous record set by compatriot Thomas Coville last year by a massive six days and 10 hours.

Moments before crossing the finish line Gabart, a father of two and engineer by trade, 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. 

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.

"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."

[gal:2]

Gabart becomes just the fourth title-holder for a world record of sailing the globe solo without stopping.

Huge leaps have been made in that time -- since the record was first set in 2004, nearly 30 days have been shaved off.

The debut record holder was Frenchman Francis Joyon who completed the odyssey in 72 days and 22 hours.

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