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François Gabart: French sailor slashes around the world solo record

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Media captionFrançois Gabart was welcomed back to France by a flotilla of local boats escorting him home

A French sailor has set a new world record for the fastest solo round-the-world navigation, beating the previous time by more than six days.

François Gabart finished his circuit of the globe early on Sunday, in a time of 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

He completed the journey non-stop, confined to his trimaran sailing yacht since 4 November.

Gabart broke the record set by his countryman Thomas Coville last year.

The record was held at one stage by British national Dame Ellen MacArthur.

Gabart's new record has yet to be verified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which will check the ship's GPS data before confirming the result.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Gabart celebrated aboard his trimaran as he reached port in Brest

He crossed the finish line near the western limit of the English Channel at about 01:45 GMT, before turning his ship homeward.

Capturing the drama just ahead of the finish, Gabart said in a video recorded in front of an on-board computer monitor: "The little blue bit is us, the red line is the finish. We should cross it any time now, the computer says 30 seconds."

Then he reported: "I've just crossed the finish line. It's pretty crazy. It's pretty unreal. I'm a bit overwhelmed. Just now I couldn't move I was at such a loss about what to do next. I'm in the dark. There are cargo ships and fishing boats around me. It's a pretty weird atmosphere and at the same time it's pretty extraordinary...

"I'm proud and happy to have made this pretty voyage around the planet."

As he arrived in the town of Brest in France's north-west several hours later, his yacht was escorted into port by a host of local boats in celebration of his accomplishment.

Gabart's success is partly down to good luck with weather, which can dramatically influence sailing speeds.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption François Gabart spent 42 days alone on his ship

AFP news agency reports that, while chasing the global speed record, Gabart broke several others for solo racing, including the fastest navigation of the Pacific and the longest distance covered in 24 hours - 1,575km (851 miles).

But his 30m (98ft) boat was also custom-designed for the purpose, using the latest technology, and reached speeds of 35 knots (65km/h) during the journey, it said.

Gabart posted photos and video on social media frequently during his 42 days at sea, sharing his sunset views or his success at fishing with fans.

Well-known sailor Michel Desjoyeaux told the AFP news agency it was not surprising that Gabart had broken Coville's record.

"The one thing we can be sure of is that Francois has a faster boat than Thomas had and if they raced head-to-head then he would be faster," he said. "And he has spent a great deal of time on a multi-hull and is completely unafraid of high speeds."

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