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Meeting after 211 days of separation

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French solo yachtsman Jean-Luc van den Heede is reunited with his wife after a long separation of 211 days, 23 hours and 50 minutes. That is how long it took the 73-year-old yachtsman to complete the Golden Globe round-the-world race. Van den Heede was the first to cross the finish line at Le Sables d'Olonne.

Jean-Luc van den Heede has thus become the oldest person in the world to sail solo and non-stop around the world.

For him, this is his sixth solo circumnavigation of the globe. However, this sixth voyage was even more lonely than usual: according to GGR rules, the participants could not use satellite phones and all communication with the shore-based crew was confined to short-wave radio communication sessions. However, Van den Heede broke this rule once during the race: when his mast broke in the middle of the South Pacific , he contacted his wife and informed her of his intention to head for Chile for repairs. A layover in port would have meant the end of the major prize and a move up to the Chichester class, but on the way to port, he found a way to make the repairs himself. The yachtsman received a penalty for calling ashore and had to climb the mast seven times to refit it, but he continued tofight in the overall race.

At the post-finishpress conference, Van den Heede admitted that climbing the mast was no longer as easy as it used to be at his age.

«The most terrifying thing was trying to get the bindings off. It was noteasy even in the workshop on hard ground, and at six meters it was a total Fort Boyer!»

Nevertheless, after the difficulties of the solo round-the-world voyage, the sailor was in good spirits and joked a great deal. Smiling, he said that he was now dreaming of three things: a bath, a steak and a beer, in that order!

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