Vendee Globe: French sailor Armel Le Cleac'h wins in record time

Armel Le Cleac'h
Armel Le Cleac'h celebrates after arriving at Les Sables-d'Olonne

French yachtsman Armel Le Cleac'h won the 2016-17 Vendee Globe round the world race in a new record time of 74 days three hours and 35 minutes.

He crossed the finish line at Les Sables-d'Olonne on France's Atlantic coast at 15:40 GMT on Thursday.

Le Cleac'h, 39, surpassed Francois Gabart's 2012-13 race record of 78 days, two hours and 16 minutes.

Welsh sailor Alex Thomson crossed the finish line in second place on Friday morning.

The Gosport-based sailor's time was 74 days 19 hours 35 minutes and 15 seconds.

The 42-year-old had cut Le Cleac'h's lead to 34 miles on Wednesday with 309 miles left of the race.

But he conceded he would have to settle for second place after the Frenchman moved 95 miles ahead overnight on Wednesday.

Thomson was competing in the Vendee Globe for the fourth time, and was attempting to become the first Briton to win it.

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Watch: Amazing helicopter footage of Alex Thomson in Vendee Globe race

Did boat damage cost Thomson victory?

Thomson led for many of the early stages and broke two race records prior to being overtaken, with Le Cleac'h moving ahead in early December.

He was nearly 1,000 miles behind at Christmas after his boat's hydrofoil was ripped off in mid-November, but he increased his speed after rounding Cape Horn.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to complete a single-handed circumnavigation of the globe, believes Thomson could have won the race if his boat had not been damaged.

Thomson lost his starboard foil after it struck a submerged object - damage the Welshman calculated cost him around 20% of boat Hugo Boss's performance.

"When you look at the speeds Alex has been doing (early in the race) - 20 knots in a 60ft monohull - it's phenomenal," Sir Robin told BBC Radio Wales.

"He was so close on Wednesday - he was only 30 nautical miles behind - if he had not broken that foil he would have been ahead of Le Cleac'h and quite a lot ahead of him."

Thomson was leading the race by more than 100 miles when his boat was damaged.

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