Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux has won the gruelling Vendée Globe around-the-world solo yacht race after crossing the finish line at the French port of Les Sables d'Olonne on Sunday in a record time of 84 days.
AFP - Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux won the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race after crossing the finish line at the French port of Les Sables d'Olonne on Sunday afternoon in a record time of 84 days.
The previous best time of 87 days, 10 hours and 47 minutes was established by Vincent Riou in 2005.
Desjoyeaux, a 43-year-old from the northwestern coastal region of Brittany, came home shortly after 1500GMT to complete the solo endurance race in a total time of 84 days, three hours and nine minutes at sea, with an average speed of 12.3 knots and 22.8 kph.
As he approached port, members of Desjoyeaux's Foncia technical team came on board to start the celebrations.
At Sables d'Olonne, a firework display awaited them along with tens of thousands of cheering spectators.
Desjoyeaux said that he had had to concentrate hard until the very end.
"A few cargo vessels crossed my path and I had to keep assessing the state of things. It was a pretty choppy arrival in the end with winds gusting at around 20 knots. We were right in the teeth of it."
But as he closed in on his goal he began to feel elated.
"There were plenty of birds ... the water changed colour, becoming more greeny-white. I came across a few fishing boats overnight while a helicopter flew overhead. All that signifies you're not far from home."
The win came despite early adversity, as Desjoyeaux had an initial 40-hour gap to make up on the leading vessels having had to make a return to port at Les Sables d'Olonne to repair an electrical fault.
But he closed the gap in less than 40 days and then hit the front on December 16 despite terrible stormy conditions which put paid to the hopes of a raft of fellow competitors in the Indian Ocean.
Thereafter, the man from Port-La-Foret never looked back and pocketed his second win in as many attempts in the gruelling event after 2000-2001, when he came in a day ahead of Britain's Ellen McArthur.
This time, he crushed those whose campaign had survived the storms with Roland Jourdain of Veolia Environnement standing fully 1400 sea miles behind as Desjoyeaux savoured his arrival.
The event, considered the toughest race in the sport, saw conditions so difficult that only 12 of the 30 boats that left France on November 9 remain in the race.
Having suffered keel problems Thursday Jourdain was believed to be considering ending his race in the Azores Islands in the mid-Atlantic.
If he does throw in the towel, Armel Le Cleac'h, young skipper of Brit'Air, would likely finish second but Sunday evening he was still some 1,700 nautical miles (more than 3000 km) - almost a week's racing - from port.
Date created : 2009-02-01