Alex Thomson Sets Solo Distance Record
Published on January 16th, 2017
(January 16, 2017; Day 72, 10:00 FR) – British sailor Alex Thomson today smashed the world record for the greatest distance sailed solo in 24 hours (monohull up to 60 foot) 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Gabart’s record two weeks into the race, sailing 535.34 miles in 24 hours, but the rules of the record state it must be superseded by one whole mile.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.
The eighth Vendée Globe, which began November 6 from Les Sables d’Olonn, France, is the only non-stop solo round the world race without assistance. Twenty-nine skippers representing four continents and ten nations set sail on IMOCA 60s in pursuit of the record time set by François Gabart in the 2012-13 race of 78 days, 2 hours and 16 minutes.
For the first time in the history of the event, seven skippers will set sail on IMOCA 60s fitted with foils: six new boats (Banque Populaire VIII, Edmond de Rothschild, Hugo Boss, No Way Back, Safran, and StMichel-Virbac) and one older generation boat (Maitre Coq). The foils allow the boat to reduce displacement for speed gains in certain conditions. It will be a test to see if the gains can topple the traditional daggerboard configuration during the long and demanding race.
November 12, Day 7 – Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives Coeur, masthead crane failure
November 19, Day 14 – Bertrand de Broc, MACSF, UFO collision
November 22, Day 17 – Vincent Riou, PRB, UFO collision
November 24, Day 19 – Morgan Lagravière, Safran, UFO collision
December 4, Day 29 – Kojiro Shiraishi, Spirit of Yukoh, dismasted
December 6, Day 31 – Kito de Pavant, Bastide Otio, UFO collision
December 7, Day 32 – Sébastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, foil damage
December 18, Day 43 – Thomas Ruyant, Le Souffle du Nord, UFO collision
December 24, Day 49 – Stéphane Le Diraison, Compagnie du Lit – Boulogne Billancourt, dismasted
December 24, Day 49 – Paul Meilhat, SMA, keel ram failure
January 1, Day 57 – Enda O’Coineen, Kilcullen Voyager-Team Ireland, dismasted
Source: Vendee Globe