- At the end of the line, but at the finish line
- Big cheers from the audience
- No chance to rest
- First circumnavigation of the world in a six-meter boat
At the end of the line, but at the finish line
With arms raised, Alessandro di Benedetto celebrates the happy return to Les Sables d’Olonne. The Vendee Globe is now over for him too
After 104 days alone on board, the last Vendee Globe sailor has reached its destination in France. The tour of the Leiden at sea is over, but the number of losers is high.
D.he last rice pudding on board, Alessandro Di Benedetto ate two nights before his arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne on the French Atlantic coast. The Franco-Italian is the last sailor to cross the finish line of the Vendee Globe crossed. After 104 days, two hours, 34 minutes and 30 seconds on board his ship, the toughest regatta in the world was over for him too.
The victorious Frenchman François Gabart had reached Les Sables just 78 days after the start. Never before has a sailor who circumnavigated the world alone been faster than Gabart. The previous record set by “Professor” Michel Desjoyeaux from France with 84 days in 2008/2009 was also beaten by Armel Le Cleac’h (France) and Briton Alex Thomson in third place. Desjoyeaux is considered to be the world’s best single-handed sailor.
The 2011/12 Vendee Globe will thus go down in history as the race of records, and that was also due to the interest with which sailing enthusiasts followed the event. 45 million fans visited the Vendee Globe website during the race, and a total of 240 million pages were viewed. The race was televised for 50 hours. The organizer speaks of the fifth largest sporting event in the world.
In any case, Di Benedetto received an enthusiastic reception on the French Atlantic coast. As with the other sailors before, a number of boats and yachts had come towards him to accompany his destination on the Atlantic, about two miles off the coast.
Big cheers from the audience
The fans then accompanied the extreme athlete over the last few meters to the port of Les Sables. Di Benedetto was later cheered frenetically in the harbor itself and on the stage just behind his anchorage. The Franco-Italian thanked him with his hands up on the bow of his ship, as if he had just scored a goal in an important football match. The emotion of the enthusiastic reception was evident in di Benedetto.
However, the failure rate was also extremely high at this year’s edition of the race. Eight out of 20 starters had to give up, one boat was disqualified. For these participants it was a loss-making regatta, the outcome of which was all the more painful because the sailors usually spend at least three years preparing for the one-handed circumnavigation of the world. Behind the sailors there is also an extensive team of experts and helpers, whose work is ruined by the task of the sailors.
No chance to rest
The sailors and boats were also loaded this time on the route of around 45,000 kilometers, sometimes beyond the borders. Di Benedetto felt this again on the last miles before the finish. Due to changing winds and various cruising barges, he could not sleep for a minute on his boat during the night before last.
Even in the last 24 hours there were hardly any opportunities for the professional geler, who originally worked as a geologist, to rest. He had to cross towards the goal and could not choose a direct line. The wind wouldn’t let that happen. In addition, the closer he got to the coast, the more the commercial shipping increased.
First circumnavigation of the world in a six-meter boat
For Di Benedetto it was the second time that he sailed around the world alone. On the route of the Vendee Globe he started in Les Sables in 2009 alone in a 6.5 meter long boat and had reached the place in France again after 268 days. This time he was faster – but it was only enough for last place.
For the spectators in the French coastal town, it didn’t matter that he crossed the finish line only 26 days after the winner. With sustained applause and flares, they paid tribute to the enormous achievement of a single non-stop circumnavigation. In addition, the 26-day difference to the winner was the smallest distance measured in the previous seven Vendee Globe races.
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