British sailor Alex Thomson today smashed the world record for the greatest distance sailed solo in 24 hours notching up 536.8 miles on his 60ft racing yacht.
Thomson, 42, is currently in second place in the Vendee Globe just 70 miles behind French race leader Armel Le Cleac’h with 1,000 miles to go to the finish line.
During the 24-hour period running up to the 0800 UTC position report he sailed his racing boat Hugo Boss at an average speed of 22.4 knots, or 25.7mph.
His 24-hour distance beats the record of 534.48 miles set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition of the Vendee Globe, a singlehanded race around the world without stopping.
Thomson was among a fleet of 29 mostly French solo sailors that set off from Les Sables d’Olonne in the Vendee region of France on November 6.
He actually bested Gabart’s record two weeks into the race, sailing 535.34 miles in 24 hours, but the rules of the record state it must be superseded by one whole mile.
He previously held the record between 2003 and 2012 with a distance of 468.72 miles. The new record will now be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.
Thomson is expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne on Thursday after 74 days at sea. The fastest time the race has ever been completed was 78 days, set by Gabart in 2013.
If Thomson, from Hampshire in England, can overhaul Le Cleac’h before the finish line he will be the first Brit to win the race in its 27-year history.
It is the fourth time he has competed in the quadrennial Vendee Globe, which is considered among the toughest sporting challenges in the world. He finished third in the previous edition.