French sailor Thomas Coville, who is hoping to break Francis Joyon's record of sailing solo around the world, is back in the North Atlantic.
His trimaran Sodebo crossed the equator Sunday at 09:20 GMT after 49 days, 22 hours, 12 minutes and 32 seconds at sea - 1 day, 19 hours and 54 minutes behind Joyon's record.
Since his departure Jan. 29 from Ushant, France, the trimaran has traveled 23,777 miles (averaging 19.84 knots). During the last stretch, from Cape Horn to the Equator, Coville was faster than his predecessor. Despite being carried primarily upwind and with a damaged starboard bow, Thomas reached the equator in 11 days, 21 hours and 56 minutes - more than 16 hours better than Francis in 2008.
This meant that Thomas was 226 miles ahead five days ago. He is now approximately 484 miles behind, but since Monday the northeast winds have been building and Coville's speeds have been increasing from 12 knots to 17 knots.
In order to beat the record, Thomas must cross the finish line before March 28, 13:40:34 (local time). For the next seven days, he must keep his average speed above 18 knots.