British billionaire sets sail in attempt to break speed record across Atlantic

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The Independent Online

A 70-year-old British billionaire set sail from New York yesterday in aa attempt to break the world speed record for crossing the Atlantic by sea.

Robert Miller left Manhattan with his crew of 23, on board the Mari Cha IV. They will attempt to make the 2,925-mile journey to Lizard Point, Cornwall, in the single hull yacht in less than eight days.

Mr Miller said: "I've been a sailor all my life. There's nothing more exciting than the adrenalin rush of being on a fast boat in severe weather conditions. I have a great team of sailors and an awesome boat so we think we can do considerable damage to all the leading world records if we have the right conditions."

Mr Miller is believed to have spent £10m on the project.

Registered at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, the Mari Cha IV can reach speeds of 40 knots. Mr Miller and his crew plan to sail at an average speed of 15.3 knots.

If they succeed the Mari Cha IV will be the first mono-hull vessel to complete the feat in under eight days. They also hope to be the first crew on a single hull vessel to sail more than 500 miles in 24 hours. The yacht has two 45-metre masts but her carbon fibre design means she weighs only 50 tons.

There are no bedrooms, only bunks and sleeping bags, no bathroom, and only one small galley in the vessel, which took two years to build.

Mr Miller and his crew set sail from Chelsea Pier in Manhattan and the record attempt was to begin when they reached Ambrose Lighthouse, off New York harbour.

The current west to east transatlantic speed record of eight days, 20 hours, 55 minutes and 35 seconds was set by the Swiss sailor Bernard Stamm in February 2001. The first sailor to claim a record speed crossing was was the American Charlie Barr, who sailed his yacht Atlantic from the US to the UK in 12 days, 4 hours and 1 minute.

Mr Miller, a Korean War veteran, is estimated to be worth more than £975m. He founded the Hong Kong-based Duty Free Shoppers Group in the 1960s and is the founder of Search Group, an international investment company. He owns Gunnerside Estate in Yorkshire, one of the largest country estates in Britain, and also has homes in Hong Kong, London, New York, and Paris.