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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 February, 2004, 11:05 GMT
Fossett begins Verne record bid
Steve Fossett
Steve Fossett hopes to shave four days off the current world record
An adventurer who set sail from Devon has crossed the start line in his bid to beat the round-the-world sailing record.

American balloonist Steve Fossett is hoping to break the Jules Verne record in his 125-foot catamaran, the Cheyenne.

Fossett and his 12-strong crew set sail from Plymouth on Friday and completed the 120-mile trip to the start-finish line at Le Stiff lighthouse on the French island of Ouessant at 0510 GMT on Saturday.

He is aiming to slash the record to circumnavigate the globe, which stands at 64 days and eight hours and was set two years ago.

The first task is to make it round without breaking the equipment
Steve Fossett
The Cheyenne's 21,760-mile (35,019-kilometre) voyage will go via the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn.

The millionaire skipper hopes to complete the journey in 60 days.

Brian Thompson from Southampton; engineer Mark Featherstone from Salcombe; Justin Slattery and Damian Foxall, both from the Irish Republic, are among the Cheyenne's multi-national crew.

Speaking ahead of his departure from Plymouth, Mr Fossett said: "The first task is to make it round without breaking the equipment, because only half the round the world record attempts ever finish.

"This is the only major world record in sailing that we have not got.

"It is the most important of the records and it is imperative that we give this a try."

The American hit the headlines 18 months ago when flew a hot air balloon around the world in 16 days.

Speed sailing is his speciality, however, and he has already set more than 20 world records in this field.

The BBC's Alex Bushill
"Their ambition relies on the boat surviving the weather..."

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