Vendee Globe skipper breaks distance record
PARIS (AFP) –
Vendee Globe skipper Francois Gabart has lowered the 24 hour monohull Open 60 distance record held for the past nine years by British sailor Alex Thomson.
France’s Gabart, at the helm of his boat Macif, sailed 482.91 nautical miles between midday Thursday and midday Friday to pass Thomson’s previous best mark set in 2003 by 14.19 miles.
Gabart, who is lying third in the non stop, single-handed round the world yacht race, was sailing at an average speed of 20.1 knots.
“I benefitted from perfect conditions to stack up the miles, ” said Gabart.
“We remained just ahead of a front with a calm sea and a 20 to 30 knot wind – it was extremely pleasant as we were able to go quick without forcing it.”
Thomson, writing in his blog in The Independent newspaper, said: “I’ve held the record for almost 10 years and was expecting it to go during this race, I’m really pleased it’s gone to Francois on his first Vendee Globe.”
Gabart’s record, announced by Vendee Globe organisers, must still be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Racing Council.
Twenty days after the 2012-2013 Vendee Globe set off from the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne a total of 13 boats remained in the hunt for sailing’s toughest test.
In all seven boats have pulled out, including the only woman skipper in the race, Britain’s Samantha Davies, who came fourth in the last edition two years ago.
France’s Armel Le Cleac’h leads from Jean-Pierre Dick around 50 miles behind with Gabart in third and Thomson placed fifth as the flotilla make their way east towards the Cape of Good Hope.