French offshore sailor, François Gabart has, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, set a new solo round the world record

After setting a new solo round the world record, François Gabart has said he believes the feat can be done even quicker.

The French offshore racer smashed the record on Sunday (17 December), completing his voyage in 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes and 35 seconds.

This broke the record set by Thomas Coville on 25 December 2016 (49 days, 3 hours, 4 minutes and 28 seconds) by 6 days, 10 hours, 23 minutes and 53 seconds.

Gabart’s MACIF trimaran covered a true distance of 27,859.7 miles, with a true average over the course of 27.2 knots.

Speaking after crossing the finish line, the 34-year-old skipper said he needed three things to succeed: a good boat, good sailing and a little success.

‘I had to keep up the pace and I’m really proud of my circumnavigation. I didn’t make too many mistakes. At the same time, I believe that we can still raise the level of the game and go much faster,’ said Gabart.

‘And that’s really inspiring. I am reserving this challenge for another time. There’s plenty more to do and to imagine, to sail fast on these boats,’ he added.

Gabart in his trimaran MACIF smashes the solo round the world record

Celebrations as MACIF arrives home. Credit: Jean-Marie Liot/ALeA / Macif

Gabart, who won the 2012-13 Vendée Globe, admitted he was frightened during his record breaking voyage, especially when he saw an iceberg.

‘That took me by surprise. Even though you deal with it, in the hours that follow you say to yourself: “What do you do when it gets dark 4 hours later?” You react passively and fatalistically. You can’t do anything. What’s more, you’re in the screaming sixties (60° S), an area of the world where there’s nothing if you hit something. If a boat was to come, it would arrive three weeks later,’ he explained.

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‘So, I was glad to get away and at the same time, after the event, now that I’m here, I’m delighted I saw an iceberg. It’s amazing. I always thought that seeing icebergs would be one of the things on my life’s to-do-list, but I was thinking of doing this much later, when I retire, with a good boat in South Georgia. I hadn’t anticipated an iceberg during a record attempt at 35 knots. Fortunately, it turned out okay, but it added to the depth of feeling.’

Incredibly, his MACIF trimaran finished the record breaking voyage in ‘really good condition’

‘On the face of it, everything withstood the weather, even though she had one hell of a battering. It was very violent. The boat was built wonderfully well,’ noted Gabart.

Francois Gabart celebrates with champagne

Celebrations! Credit: Yvan Zedda/ALeA/Macif

‘Up until this year, we regularly had small problems. I think that we needed two years to test her reliability with a view to a round the world. It was a wise decision to take this two-year approach. I’m really proud of this boat and the work of the team. It’s just fantastic, as we started out with a blank page.’

‘Four years ago, the specifications were to sail round the world as fast as possible single-handed, with a budget and a launch date, full stop. We couldn’t really go in all directions. We could have built a 50-foot long catamaran. Together with the team we thought things through a great deal. I think we made the right choices. I work with a wonderful team, as deeply devoted and committed as ever, and extremely meticulous. I share a collective pride with the whole team and with Macif,’ continued Gabart.

‘It’s been really hard for weeks. I’m sore all over. It hurts when I raise my arms, but I’m holding out because of the adrenaline and the euphoria,’ added the French skipper.


Architects: VLP
Construction: CDK Technologies (project management), Multiplast (Central hull, mainsheet traveller)
Launch date: 18 August 2015
LOA: 30.00 m
Beam: 21.00 m
Max draught: 4.50m
Number of daggerboards: 3
Air draught: 35 m
Upwind sail area: 430 m²
Downwind sail area: 650 m²