A British adventurer has sailed his way into the record books after smashing the solo transatlantic record by more than 24 hours.

Alex Thomson, 38, crossed finishing line in Plymouth on Thursday, setting the new time at eight days, 22 hours, eight minutes. It means he has beaten the previous record, subject to ratification by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, which has stood for a decade.

alex thomson record

Alex Thomson hoped to make it back to the UK in time for the Olympics

The sailor, from Gosport in Hampshire, said: "To be back in time for the Olympics is fantastic, and something that I hoped was possible though wasn't entirely sure.

"It has been a long few days. The first half from New York was great with weather conditions in our favour, but things started to slow down the closer I got.

"But the wind has held out this morning and it's so fantastic to have broken this record."

Mr Thomson set sail from New York on 17 July to cover 2,800 nautical miles in a quest to break the record, which sat at 10 days, 55 minutes and 19 seconds, and was set by Swiss sailor Bernhard Stamm.

His secondary aim was to get home in time for the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in order to support chairman and good friend, Sir Keith Mills.

Mr Thomson added: "Lack of sleep, broken instruments on the boat and constant exposure to the elements has really taken it out of me. But it's such a good feeling to have beaten it by such a great margin."

The adventurer said the transatlantic effort was a warm-up in his quest to be the first Briton ever to win the gruelling single-handed round-the-world race, the Vendee Globe, leaving from France in November on board his 60ft monohull, Hugo Boss.

He said: "This record attempt was also a training exercise for the Vendee Globe. We felt this record attempt would put me under real pressure and stimulate race conditions and I have felt a real value in it."

He is one of three British competitors who will take part in the non-stop, solo, unassisted round-the-world yacht race starting in Les Sables d'Olonne in France, on 10 November.