(Reuters) - Britain's Alex Thomson has set a world record for the greatest distance sailed solo in 24 hours, covering 536.8 nautical miles (994.15 km) in the Vendee Globe round-the-world race.

The 42-year-old Welshman covered the distance from Sunday until 0300 EST on Monday, sailing at an average speed of 22.4 knots (41.36km/h) to close in on the leader, Armel Le Cleac'h, heading into the final stages of the famed not-stop solo race.

The mark will have to be ratified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council but Vendee Globe organizers said it was quicker than the previous best mark of 534.48 nautical miles (989.86km) set by French sailor Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition.

Thomson, who was 819 nautical miles off the pace in December, trails France's Cleac'h by 73 nautical miles after 74 days at sea in what is set to be the fastest edition of the event.


With approximately 1,000 nautical miles to go to the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne in France, both sailors look set to finish inside Gabart's record 78-day finish, also set in 2013.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in London; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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