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French sailor Thomas Coville sets new record for solo sailing circumnavigation

On his third attempt, 48-year-old Thomas Coville shaved a week off the round-the-world solo record. During his 49-day voyage, he rarely slept for more than 30 minutes at a time.

French skipper Thomas Coville shattered the record for the fastest solo nonstop circumnavigation of the world on Sunday, taking 49 days, 3 hours, 7 minutes and 38 seconds.

The previous record stood since 2008, when compatriot yachtsman Francis Joyon took 57 days and 13 hours. That record was considered an incredible feat at the time, as it dwarfed the 71-day record set in 2005. He congratulated Coville on his success.

"Thomas has set a superb record after a perfectly executed circumnavigation. Well done to him for his performance and perseverance," Joyon said in a press release. "He's set a really high standard."

Coville sailed the Sodebo Ultim' across the virtual finishing line off d'Ouessant in Brittany late Sunday afternoon. He had left Brest on November 6.

Thomas Coville's yacht the Sodebo Ultim' (picture alliance/DPPI Media)

Coville set the record in the 31-meter maxi trimaran Sodebo Ultim'

The Breton sailor said he is "exhausted, even completely emptied," after spending nearly 7 weeks alone at sea.

Previous record-holder Francis Joyon congratulated Coville.

A few hours ahead of his triumphal arrival, his official YouTube page posted a video of navy pilots flying above his boat on the home stretch.

In heavy weather north of the Azores, Coville covered 1,200 kilometers (650 miles) in 24 hours.

During his voyage on the 31-meter maxi trimaran, he rarely slept for more than 30 minutes.

It was his third solo attempt at the 51,000 kilometers distance since 2009. It is the 48-year-old sailor's eighth circumnavigation of the world.

Family and friends gathered in a conference room burst out with emotion at news of his success. His official Twitter account posted pictures of the scenes.

The exhausted sailor will spend the night at sea with his support crew.

aw/jm (AFP)

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