LES SABLES-D’OLONNE, France (AP) — French sailor Yannick Bestaven won the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race after more than 80 days and an unusually close final few hours to determine the winner on Thursday.
Bestaven wasn’t the first to cross the finish line — that honor went to countryman Charlie Dalin, who arrived in Les Sables-d’Olonne on Wednesday night.
Bestaven, the skipper of Maitre Coq IV, wrapped up his odyssey in the early hours of Thursday behind Dalin and Louis Burton. But thanks to a time bonus he earned for helping to rescue a competitor, he was declared the winner in 80 days, 3 hours, 44 minutes, 46 seconds. Dalin was 2 1/2 hours behind.
Bestaven was given a time compensation of 10 hours, 15 minutes by an international jury for his role in late November in the search and rescue of Kevin Escoffier, who capsized 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Cape Horn.
“There are two winners on this Vendee Globe,” said Bestaven, who was greeted by fireworks in the seaside town. “I feel like I’m living a dream, hallucinating. You go from total solitude to this, to this party, to these lights, these people who are there despite the complicated context. I’m still in my race.”
German yachtsman Boris Herrmann also took part in the rescue of Escoffier and received bonus time but his chances of winning the race vanished when he collided with a fishing boat in the Bay of Biscay late Wednesday, around 90 nautical miles from the end. He had to slow down because of a damaged starboard foil.
This was Bestaven’s second participation in the race, 13 years after he pulled out less than 24 hours into the 2008 Vendee Globe. Extremely consistent this time, he was one of the two skippers who led the fleet for the longest time, for 26 days.
The race, held every four years, also starts from Les Sables-d’Olonne. Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h won the previous edition.
The race takes sailors around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Australia’s Cape Leeuwin, and South America’s Cape Horn, over some 24,000 nautical miles (about 44,500 kilometers).
“You have to look deep down inside yourself,” Bestaven said. “These boats are stressful, noisy, and life on board is difficult. There are also times you feel lonely.”
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