Alex Thomson, currently second in the Vendée Globe, has clocked a new 24-hour monohull solo speed record of 536.81 miles as he sails flat out in a bid to catch race leader Armel Le Cleac’h in the final week of competition

Vendée Globe racer Alex Thomson has set a new 24-hour solo monohull sailing record, sailing an incredible 536.81 nautical miles in 24 hours.

Watch Alex talking about the record here:

The Hugo Boss skipper has reclaimed his crown as king of speed by covering 536.81 miles in 24 hours, maintaining an astonishing average pace of 22.36 knots. This takes the record back from Francois Gabart, set in the last edition of the Vendée Globe at 534.48M or an average speed of 22.27kts, in 2012. Thomson himself held the title of fastest man in an IMOCA60 before that, having set a 468-mile record in 2003 which stood unbeaten for almost a decade.

Today’s 24-hour pace is actually the second time Thomson has sailed consistently faster than Gabart’s time, clocking over 535 miles back in November last year. However, the official rules of the world speed sailing record states that the record must be exceeded by one complete nautical mile in order to be ratified.

Aerial shot of Hugo Boss, skipper Alex Thomson (GBR), off the Kerguelen Islands

While this edition of the Vendée Globe has been consistently faster than all previous – the foil-assisted IMOCA 60s repeatedly setting new times to the Equator and on each Cape to Cape leg of the course compared to their ‘conventional’ canting-keeled predecessors – this 24-hour run is made all the more impressive by the fact that the sea state, some 550 miles west of Spain, was far from ideal, with big variations in wind strength giving the Hugo Boss autopilot plenty to content with for such a fast 24-hour stretch. It is also notable because Thomson’s Hugo Boss smashed its starboard foil early in the race, so can only achieve full power on starboard tack.

Thomson is currently in second place in the Vendée Globe and is clearly throwing everything he has at this, his fourth attempt at winning the solo round the world marathon.

Read more about the incredible challenge facing him here:

This afternoon Thomson was chasing long-time leader Armel Le Cleac’h from around 78 miles behind. With just over 800 miles to go for the leader until they finish back in Les Sables d’Olonne, Thomson – who finished third in the last edition of the Vendée Globe, has been pushing consistently hard to make gains up the Atlantic, reducing Le Cleac’h’s advantage from 240 miles just a week ago.

However, this race has a history of just denying the runner-up by the slimmest of margins – Le Cleac’h himself was just three hours and 17 minutes behind the last winner, Francois Gabart in 2012. In today’s video, Thomson comments that he is concerned about his steering and has had some near-miss crash gybes going downwind at high speeds, and also says he is “struggling a bit” with his AIS system (Automatic Identification System). Both factors could yet prove to have a huge impact on this final full-on push to Les Sables. As Thomson signs off “I’m going to fight to the end!”

The leaders are predicted to arrive back in Les Sables d’Olonne on the 19 or 20 of January, and the French Atlantic town is set to give the athletes an incredible reception.

Alex Thomson flies the flag on Hugo Boss