Francois Gabard (Macif) finished first in the Vendee Globe round the world. The course time was 78 days, 2 hours 16 minutes and 40 seconds. François was thus the first to win the Jules Verne Cup on a single hull yacht and overcome the 80-day barrier. He also set a new daily crossing record: 534 miles, which corresponds to an average speed of over 22 knots.
The previous record achievement belonged to Michel Dejouayo, who circled the world in 84 days, 3 hours and 9 minutes. This record was set in the 2008-2009 race. Gabar improved the previous winner's result by 6 days and 53 minutes at once.
It is worth noting that the "golden boy" was even ahead of the legend (also French, by the way) Bruno Peyron, who in 1993 circled the globe in 79 days, 6 hours and 15 minutes on an 86-foot catamaran Commodore Explorer.
Recall that the finish line is not in port, but in the open ocean (video) and to enter the port the skipper has to choose the time of the tide, which is either at night or in the afternoon. Naturally, a lot of spectators gathered on shore waiting for the winners (video).
Amazingly, François was the youngest winner of this gruelling race: at the time of the finish he was only 29 years old, which is not much of a round-the-world regatta, and that's why the «Figaro» newspaper calls him a «gifted child of the sea» and even «Mozart of the latitudes». What's more, it was his first time at the Vendee Globe.
Following François Gabard, another French skipper, Armel Le Cleck (Banque Populaire), entered the port of Le Sables d'Olonne (video). Only 3 hours separated Le Cleck from the winner. His total travel time was 78 days, 5 hours 33 minutes and 52 seconds.
In his first interview, Le Cleck said he was "99% self-satisfied," and he was very happy that his race was overnight and he didn't have to wait for the tide.
As long as not all of the competitors finished, the race is far from over. After all, the race continues on the distance: Jean-Pierre Dick, whose yacht lost the keel, continues the race a thousand miles from the finish. Alex Thomson, who managed to beat the opponent, stayed on the same course for a while in order to cover the time of passing a small cyclone. Now he (most likely) will take third place. If the situation does not change, then for the second time in the history of the round-the-world podium Vendee Globe will go English: 12 years ago the second place was taken by Helen MacArthur.
World War II veterans Jean Le Cam and Mike Golding (fifth and sixth position respectively) are also continuing their struggle. To date, out of twenty starting skippers, seven had to retire and one was disqualified.
Jules Verne never dreamed of that...