French Sailor Sets New Sailing Record

François Gabart

On Sunday, François Gabart set a new sailing record when he completed a solo circuit of the globe in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes, and 35 seconds. He sailed over the finish line more than six days ahead of the previous record holder, Thomas Colville of Rennes, France. In his original itinerary, Gabart has planned to top the record by only two days.

Gabart left Brest on November 4 in his racing timaran, Macif, for his solo voyage. On November 14, he sailed 851 miles in one day, setting a new record for most miles traveled by a solo sailor in 24 hours. By November 25, his 98-foot racing vessel was already halfway into its journey when he entered the Pacific Ocean. At that point, Gabart was more than 700 nautical miles ahead of Colville's earlier record. Later in his voyage, Gabart was delayed when he encountered rough seas and icebergs around Cape Horn in Chile. During his trip, Gabart slept as little as two hours per night, but managed to keep his ship ahead of schedule as he sailed across the Atlantic.

Under the cover of darkness, Gabart reached the finish line between Ushant island and Lizard Point in Cornwall on December 17 at 1:45 Greenwich Mean Time. A flotilla of vessels escorted Gabart to Brest where he was greeted by fans and the media. Gabart lit celebratory torches and sprayed the waiting crowd with champagne. He revealed that after having set the solo sailing world record, his next plan is to pilot an airplane around the world.

At 34-years old, Gabart is a resident of La Forêt-Fouesnant, France. As a child, he wanted to be a meteorologist, but later became more interested in sailing when he was a teenager. Due to his habits of careful planning and documentation, Gabart is nicknamed "Excel Spreadsheet" in the sailing world. In 2013, he set a new record when he won the Vendée Globe yachting race. He also placed first in the Route du Rhum transatlantic competition the following year.

Gabart is one of three French sailors to hold the record for singlehandedly sailing around the world. The previous record was set in 2016 by Thomas Colville, who broke Francis Joyon's 2008 time of 57 days, 13 hours, 34 minutes, and 6 seconds.

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