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French yacht sets new Fastnet record

Maxi Blanque Populaire smashed the best time for a Fastnet race victory by a mammoth seven hours, 48 minutes.
Maxi Blanque Populaire smashed the best time for a Fastnet race victory by a mammoth seven hours, 48 minutes.
  • French trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire wins the Rolex Fastnet Race
  • The 140-foot vessel arrives in Plymouth in 32 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds
  • The time is a new race record, beating the previous best mark by seven hours
  • Yachting
  • Plymouth
  • Isles of Scilly

(CNN) -- French yacht Maxi Banque Populaire has set a new record for a multihull vessel with victory in the Rolex Fastnet Race.

The 140-foot trimaran -- skippered by Loick Peyron -- reached Plymouth in south west England in a time of one day, eight hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds at an average speed of 18.5 knots.

That time smashed the previous record, set by the much-smaller 60-foot trimaran Fujicolour in 1999, by seven hours and 48 minutes.

Rolex Fastnet Race official website

Another French trimaran, Gitana 11, finished second with Race for Water, a brand new Multi-One Design 70, in third.

A delighted Peyron paid tribute to his 14-man crew, telling the race's official website: "It really was an incredible pleasure to sail with these exceptional men on board this great machine.

"When you have an orchestra like that, the music can only be good," he added.

The Fastnet Race is the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event and is held every two years.

The 608-mile course goes along the south coast of England, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock before returning around the Scilly Isles to the finish in Plymouth.

A record fleet of 314 starters set sail from Cowes, the Isle of Wight, on Sunday, battling it out for overall and handicap honors in their various classes, with 15 vessels being forced to retire.

The most dramatic retirement came when American supermaxi Rambler capsized shortly after rounding the Fastnet Rock, eight miles off the coast of Ireland.

Several of the 21-man crew were winched out of the water by helicopters, while others were rescued off the upturned hull, but no major injuries were reported.

It was the largest fleet since the 303 boats in the ill-fated 1979 race when the competitors were caught up in a vicious storm, resulting in 15 deaths.