British yachtsman Brian Thompson was at the heart of a new French record-setting dash round the world which on Friday night broke the 46-day barrier and clipped over two days off the old record. Banque Populaire, a 132-foot trimaran, is skippered by Loick Peyron, who sailed round the world doublehanded earlier this year to win, with Jean-Pierre Dick, the Barcelona Race.
He also returns to the Peyron family a record previously won by brother Bruno in Orange 2, and with whom he is trying to find backing for a French tilt at the America's Cup next year. The time of 45 days 13hrs 42min 53sec beat the previous record set by Franck Cammas in Groupama in March 2010 by 2d 18hrs 1min 59sec.
Cammas, who is racing the monohull Groupama in the Volvo round the world race, immediately sent congratulations from the stopover in Abu Dhabi on Peyron's "incredible" feat.
For Thompson, this fourth circumnavigation gives the 49-year old from Southampton the personal record of having raced round the world more times than any Englishman, but he is not the only one to have captured the Jules Verne Trophy. He shares that with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, who has raced round three times, as have Mike Golding and Dee Caffari.
A triumphant Thompson said: "This has been an incredible trip around the planet, almost a dream ride. And that is because of the quality of the boat, of the preparation and most of all to the incredible crew on board. I am very fortunate to have sailed with Loïck, the best all round multihull sailor there is, and the rest of the team that are so talented, industrious, dedicated, fun and welcoming to an English guy with schoolboy French!
"To achieve my dream of finally holding the Trophée Jules Verne, and of setting the most prestigious record in sailing for the second time, feels absolutely fantastic. At the same time, to become the first Briton to sail around the world non-stop 4 times, is just amazing and feels very special"
Despite having just completed an epic voyage, Thompson is already looking to the future as he hopes to be on the start line of the Vendée Globe in November 2012. Commenting on his next goal he said: "I have so enjoyed sailing round the world on Banque Populaire V, a trip on fast forward. And the whole way around I have been thinking about every detail on how to do another solo lap of the planet - faster, safer and more environmentally efficient than ever before. What better place to test that experience than in the Vendee Globe 2012?"
Asked about the feeling on board, Peyron said : "Emotional and happy! Our memories are full of wonderful images: the departure, icebergs, albatrosses, the Kerguelen Islands... When you sail around the world in 45 days, you see many things. The only one we did not get is Cape Horn, but this frustration is quickly forgotten with the record now in our hands. We are very proud !"