Jean-Luc Van Den Heede today won the Golden Globe Race, the 'retro' solo around the world race after an astonishing 211 days and 23 hours at sea, in an incredible demonstration of seamanship.
The French skipper sailed across the finish line under spinnaker, arriving back into a grey and damp Les Sables d’Olonne. Having completely run out of fuel, Van Den Heede then sailed up the famous channel of Les Sables under mainsail.
This was the first round the world race victory for the 73-year-old, who also set a new record for the oldest skipper to sail solo non-stop around the globe. He had led the solo race for almost its entirety, and finished with a margin of over 300 miles ahead of 2nd-placed Mark Slats.
Both he and his yacht, the Rustler 36 Matmut, appeared in excellent health after seven months of non-stop sailing. Van Den Heede was in high spirits on arrival, leading the crowd in song on the pontoons, and cracking jokes throughout the press conference. He gave no impression of being particularly tired or unsteady on his landlegs, but did say that he was looking forward to a bath, a steak and a beer – inthat order.
The Golden Globe started on July 1 2018 with 18 entrants – of which just four are now still racing – and the hugely experienced Van Den Heede was among the front-runners from the outset. After fellow French skipper and early race leader Philippe Peche retired, Van Den Heede built an almost unassailable lead at the Cape of Good Hope.
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