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Frenchman smashes round-the-world yachting record

media Thomas Coville in his trimaran Sodebo EAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD . AFP

Thomas Coville slashed eight days off the record when he ended an astonishing solo non-stop circumnavigation of the World on his 31m maxi trimaran on Christmas Day.

The record was once famously owned by British sailor Ellen MacArthur, but the 48-year-old Frenchman's jaw dropping new mark is just 49 days, 3 hours, 7mins and 38secs.

In that time the Colville will rarely have slept for more than 30 minutes at a time and will have been on constant alert to dangers and changing conditions.

Having set off from Brest on the Brittany coast November 6 Coville needed to make it back by January 3 to establish a new record.

Coville crossed the open seas finish line off the French Atlantic coast at 16:57GMT, December 25, and was due to head back to Brest.

The previous record of 57 days 13hrs 34mins and 6sec was established by another Frenchman Francis Joyon under almost identical conditions in 2008.

Even Joyon's record back then was a huge shock as it broke MacArthur's noteworthy, flare blazing mark of 71d, 14hrs and 18min on her 23m trimaran in February 2005.

MacArthur's Australian constructed trimaran had been specifically designed to accomodate her diminutive 5-foot 2 inch (1.57 m) height.

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