Hampshire sailor Alex Thomson has set a world record for the biggest distance sailed solo in 24 hours in the Vendee Globe.

With about 1,000 miles remaining to the finish line in the round-the-globe race, Thomson reduced the gap on leader Armel Le Cléac'h to only 70 miles.

Not bad considering he was nearly 1,000 miles behind the Frenchman on December 23.

Organisers said the 42-year-old sailed his Hugo Boss 60ft single-hull yacht at a speed of 22.4 knots over 24 hours, the equivalent of 25.7mph, covering 536.8 miles.

The previous record was held by French sailor Francois Gabart, who set a mark of 534.48 miles during the 2012-13 race.

Thomson actually bettered Gabart's record two weeks into the race, sailing 535.34 miles in 24 hours from November 15-16, but the rules of the record state it must be superseded by one whole mile.

Thomson won back the 24-hour record, which he held between 2003 (468.72 miles) and 2012, off the Azores at 7am yesterday morning.

But Le Cléac'h is also at high speed, sailing 515.5 miles at an average of 21.5 knots.

Le Cléac'h and Thomson, who hopes to become the first British winner of the non-stop race, are expected at Les Sables d'Olonne on Thursday after 74 days of racing.

It has been a remarkable effort from Thomson whatever happens next week, Thomson, 42, was the youngest skipper to ever win a global perambulation, wwhen he won the Clipper Round the World race in 1998-99.

He was forced to retire from the 2004 and 2008 editions of the Vendee Glove due to damage to his boat.

But after finishing third in 2012 he looks certain to go at least one better.

Thomson, who comes from Gosport, has opened up a gap of more than 800 miles over third-placed Jermie Beyou and 1,510 over Jean-Pierre Dick in fourth.

He has finished second in two other big races, the double-handed Barcelona World Race in 2007 and the Transat Jaques Vabre - a non-stop two-handed race from France to Brazil and back again – in 2011.

But the Vendee Globe is known as the 'Everest of Sailing' and Thomson will surely become the first Briton to finish it in the top two since Ellen MacArthur in 2001.

Should he win it would be the greatest achievement by a British sailor since Sir Robin Knox-Johnston won the Vendee Globe's forerunner, The Sunday Times Golden Globe race, in 1969.