THE smallest winning gap in Vendee Globe history has been recorded this afternoon.

Earlier today Francois Gabart won the 2012/13 staging of the solo round the world at the French port of Les Sables.

He set a new solo record for the race of 78 day, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds.

He beat Michel Desjoyeaux’s record by six days and 53 minutes.

His average speed throughout the race, which began last November, was 15.3 knots and he covered 28,646.55 miles.

Another Frenchman, Armel Le Cléac’h, crossed the line in second place just three hours 17minutes and 12 seconds after Gabart.

That is the smallest winning margin in the race’s history.

Gabart said: “Four years ago, I was at Michel Desjoyeaux’s press conference when he won the Vendee Globe.

“I had started pro sailing six months before. What happened since then is something incredible. I don’t really realise.

“What is really difficult in the Vendee Globe is how many problems and technical issues you face.

“One problem is easy to deal with, but several at the same time or in a row, that’s another story.

“Tough nights are among the most difficult moments, especially when you know it’s just the beginning of the race.

“My priority was to do my best to make sure each problem was taken care of, so I don’t have too many at the same time.

“Last night was difficult but it’s ok because I knew it was the last.

“But still, there were huge waves, cargo ships and fishing boats, things that can definitely put an end to your race.

“There were 35-knot gusts, it was very dangerous and difficult.

“I’ve surprised myself, yes. It feels great.

“I look back at my race and wonder how I was able to handle all those issues and twists of fate, either at the same time or one after the other.”

As of tonight, Gosport’s Alex Thomson was around 940 nautical miles away from the finishing line.

Warsash’s Mike Golding was lying sixth, around 2,500 nautical miles away from finishing.