Belgian yachtsman Michel Kleinjans has broken the Round Ireland record aboard Open 40

Belgian yachtsman Michel Kleinjans crossed the finish line off Dun Laoghaire to set a new single-handed record time around Ireland at 1449 yesterday. Kleinjans recorded a time of 4days, 1h and 52m aboard his 1997 Open 40Roaring Forty, bettering the previous record by 1day, 10h and 8m.

After a delayed start due to a defective starter engine, Michel Kleinjans finally set sails on Saturday 1 October at 1257 GMT.

After a fast 180NM run towards the southern tip of Ireland, he experienced very calm conditions off the south-western coast. When the wind picked up again later on Sunday,Roaring Fortystormed northwards. On Tuesday morning the skipper reported one torn spinnaker, and many dolphins around the Open 40 when rounding Tory Island.

Three hours laterRoaring Fortyrounded Inistrahull in 22 knots of wind. He then realized that he would encounter a strong adverse tidal current in the Northern Channel, which in combination with the light headwinds forced him to tack close under the coastline. During the nightRoaring Fortyforced her way south, in increasingly lighter and shiftier winds, to conclude her Irish circumnavigation.

When asked for his future plans, the skipper confirmed that the Round Britain and Ireland Race as well as the French Route du Rhum are high on his 2006 agenda, although he knows he will be needing firm sponsorship for the Route du Rhum: “The entry fee alone is rather on the high side for the amateur sailor that I am,” commented Michel Kleinjans.

The previous singlehanded Round Ireland record, 5 days, 12 hours and 11 minutes, was held by Irishman Michael Liddy sailing his production Beneteau 40.7 AFAOM.COM.

The record for crewed yachts is still held by the French 60-footer CITY JET/SOLUNE, in a time of 2 days, 9 hours and 41 minutes.