Emotional Armel Le Cléac'h claims long awaited Vendee Globe victory
The 74-day Anglo-French battle around the world between Armel Le Cléac'h and Alex Thomson was finally resolved in favour of the Le Cléac'h today when the French skipper became the eighth winner of the Vendee Globe.
Shortly before sunset in Les Sables D’Olonne this evening, flanked by an armada of spectator boats, a surprisingly sprightly-looking Le Cléac'h ran to the bow of the blue hulled IMOCA 60 Banque Populaire VIII and punched the air in triumph as he crossed the finish line.
Le Cléac'h completed his lap of the planet in 74-days, three hours, 35 minutes and 46 seconds. That’s a full three days, 22 hours and 41 minutes inside the previous record set by Francois Gabart in the 2012-13 edition.
On the TV pictures beamed live across the internet neither the French sailor nor his boat looked very much the worse for wear for their 24,000 mile plus epic adventure. Armel broke into tears however when he was asked about the challenge he faced from his British rival in the final fortnight.
He thanked his shore team for their expertise and told of his gratitude for the constant stream of messages of encouragement he had received from his legions of supporters. That combination, he said, had got him through the dark days when he felt everything was going against him.
After tacking for the finish line before his rival yesterday, Le Cléac'h said he only allowed himself to believe he had finally won the Vendee Globe as he passed the island of Ushant.
After finishing as runner up in the last two Vendee Globe’s Le Cléac'h said to finally win felt like a dream. He also paid sincere respect to Thomson who he said had been a fierce competitor.
This is likely to be Armel Le Cléac'h’s final Vendee Globe. His winning boat is reportedly already sold and later this year he will take command of the yet to be launched Banque Populaire 100-foot foiling Ultim trimaran.
[Main Image by Jean Marie Liot/DPPI/Vendee Globe]