Solo sailor François Gabart has set an extraordinary new solo 24-hour speed record while attempting to break the round the world record in trimaran MACIF

An astonishing new solo 24-hour record has been set by French sailor François Gabart. The single-hander covered 851 miles in the South Atlantic in his 98ft trimaran MACIF.

This equates to a day-and-night average speed of 35.4 knots.

In setting this extraordinary new record, Gabart has bettered his previous 24-hour solo record in the same boat, set in the North Atlantic in July 2016. But the margin of improvement is remarkable. Yesterday he covered 818 miles, taking his previous record limit up from 784 miles, a significant increase of 4 per cent. By this morning he had increased his 24-hour mileage to 851.

For context, the all-time 24-hour distance record is 907.9 miles, set by Banque Populaire V in 2009 with a crew of 11.

This is even more remarkable when you consider that the new record has been set in the Atlantic section of Gabart’s round the world record attempt, when he could be expected to be reining in somewhat to protect the boat. Gabart set off from Brest on 4 November, and reached the Equator in just six days. His trip has not been trouble-free either: onboard videos show him doing metalwork to repair a furling drum, whilst also filming the repairs single-handedly.

“I’m delighted. Records are made to be beaten. That’s how you progress,” Gabart commented. “The sensations at these speeds are pretty extraordinary. The boat flies and there’s a blend of power and lightness.”

But he added that record-setting “not the main goal right now. The idea is to finish this round the world first”.

Francois Gabart onboard Ultim MACIF, training before the Round the Word Solo Handed Record, off Belle Ile Photo jean-Marie LIOT / ALEA / MACIF

Continues below…

Gabart is trying to break the solo round the world record set by Thomas Coville on Sodebo last year. This stands at 49d 3h, and to better it MACIF must arrive back at the finish line between The Lizard and Ushant by Christmas Eve. You can follow his round the world record attempt here.

We went onboard the 100ft trimaran – take a video tour round MACIF in this video:

His VPLP designed trimaran represents some of the latest thinking in maxi multihulls and is semi-foiling. Since launching the boat in 2016, Gabart has covered tens of thousands of offshore miles in it, racing twice across the Atlantic.

You can read more about the technical aspects of the boat here.

The boat is very well tested, and Gabart, who won the Vendée Globe solo round the world race at his first time of trying in 2013, is a highly skilled and resourceful sailor. Can he smash the round the world record at his first attempt also?