Atlantic flyer Coville's 'praying mantis' smashes record by eight hours

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The Independent Online

The Blue Riband for sailing solo across the Atlantic was taken from one Frenchman by another yesterday morning when Thomas Coville set a new time of 5d 19hr 29min 20sec, roaring out of the fog and into the record books off the coast of his native Brittany.

His 105-foot praying mantis of a trimaran, Sodeb'O, burst through the six-day barrier beating Francis Joyon's time of 6d 4hr 1min 37sec, set in his trimaran Idec, which, due to exhaustion, he then smashed onto the rocks.

The singlehanded record has come down steadily since Laurent Bourgnon, in the 60-foot Primagaz in 1994, covered the distance in 7d 2hr 34min 42sec.

But the outright fastest time for the west-east, near 3,000-mile run is still held by another Frenchman, Franck Cammas who, in a fully-crewed Groupama III, set last year a record of 4d 3hr 57min 54sec, faster than liners and container ships.

Still holder of the women's record is Ellen (now Dame) MacArthur with a time of 7d 3hr 49min 57sec in her 75-foot trimaran B&Q in 2004 before going on to set a round the world record time the next year.