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Wednesday, 10 October, 2001, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Fossett sails to Atlantic record
PlayStation yacht
Steve Fossett's yacht crossed the Atlantic at 25 knots
Millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett has beaten the world trans-Atlantic sailing record by nearly two days.

He and his nine crew crossed the finish off Cornwall at 1147 BST on Wednesday, in a time of four days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and six seconds.

Shortly after passing The Lizard, an elated Steve Fossett said: "This is enormously satisfying."

The 120-foot yacht maintained an average speed of 25.78 knots.

There were none of the weather traumas that ended the American's solo round-the-world balloon attempt in August.

Spokesman Stuart Radnofsky said: "They had astonishingly flat seas for most of the passage.

Steve Fossett
Steve Fossett made four record attempts
"They had a cold front that turned into what was categorised as a 'monster front' and they went ahead of it all the way from New York."

A new 24-hour distance record of 687.17 nautical miles was set during the crossing.

One Briton sailed among Fossett's crew of nine - 32-year-old Shaun Biddulph was originally from Wallasey, Merseyside but now lives in Hamble, Hampshire.

The others were Australian Ben Wright, New Zealander Peter Hogg and Americans Stan Honey, Dave Scully, Gino Morrelli, Dave Calvert, Paul Van Dyke and David Weir.

Ten-foot waves

The crossing marked Fossett's fourth attempt at Frenchman Serje Madec's record of six days, 13 hours and three minutes, set in 1990.

He beat the record by nearly 44 hours.

The night before he finished, his support team had been predicting a finish as early as 0700 BST - which would have taken a full two days off Madec's time.

Solo Spirit balloon
Storms ended Fossett's last balloon trip
But as the yacht approached The Lizard, the flat seas were replaced by waves of 10 feet.

Fossett's meteorologists had been waiting weeks for a good weather pattern, said Mr Radnofsky.

"This was probably the last good opportunity we were going to get this season.

"They were coming up to going on a less than perfect pattern, but then they got lucky."

After crossing the line - monitored by digital positioning technology - the yacht was due to continue on the three-hour journey to Plymouth's Mayflower Marina.

Record collection

Fossett's attempt to make the first solo round-the-world balloon flight ended on 17 August, when he came down in fields near Bage, close to Brazil's border with Uruguay.

He had successfully battled strong winds over the Andes mountains, but then decided not to risk his life in raging thunderstorms over the southern Atlantic.

His 13-day flight from Australia was the second-longest ever made, the longest solo flight, and the longest in an unpressurised gondola.

Fossett has made five of the six longest flights in ballooning history, and set 10 world sailing sailing.

He holds eight yacht race records.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

17 Aug 01 | Americas
Storms beat balloonist Fossett
05 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Solo balloonist soars away
17 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Solo balloonist grounded
16 Aug 98 | Americas
Balloonist ditches into sea
03 Mar 00 | Americas
World balloon record attempt fails
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