Solo skipper Michel Desjoyeaux has smashed the Vendée Globe race record by 3 days 7 hours and 39 seconds, becoming the first skipper ever to win the Vendée Globe solo non stop around the world race twice.  Desjoyeaux sailing the yacht Foncia traveled more than 28,303 miles, sailing 1150 miles longer than in 2004 when he won the race in 2000-1 on the sailboat PRB (now sailed by Sam Davies as Roxy), beating British skipper Ellen MacArthur by 1 day 28 minutes.

Vendee Globe Skipper Michel Desjoyeaux by Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe

Vendee Globe Skipper Michel Desjoyeaux by Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI / Vendée Globe

Michel Desjoyeaux crossed the Vendée Globe finish on February 1st 2009 after sailing around the world in 84 days and 03 hours. Foncia completed the race in twenty knots of breeze under sunny skies, greeted by a massive group of power boats and sailboats before being welcomed by huge crowds who gathered along the waterfront and harbor area of Les Sables d’Olonne, France, where the race started on November 9th 2008.

Michel Desjoyeaux said: “It’s incredible, this little ray of sunshine is making it magical. I may have done it eight years ago, but it’s still incredible. I can’t take it in. I have been two  months trying to understand what’s going on, how I’m doing it and so here I’m just enjoying it then we’ll think about it afterwards. I never really worried about being behind.  I won this Vendée Globe before the start with the choices I made, with the team and the experience I have built up.”

Michel Desjoyeaux’s Race
The sailing conditions have taken a high toll of the 30 skippers who started the non stop solo round the world race.  As Desjoyeaux finished on Sunday, many are still sailing northwards in the Atlantic ocean, while the two sailors in the back are expected to pass Cape Horn and leave the Pacific today.  Ninteen skippers have been forced to abandon, including Roland Jourdain, who quit today.

And there have been injuries as well. In early December Yann Eliès had to be evacuated off his sailboat Generali when he sustained a broken femur while working on the bow of his boat.

Another dramatic event was when Jean Le Cam was rescued when he capsized off Cape Horn by Vincent Riou, the 2004-5 winner of the race.

Michel Desjoyeaux’s Vendee Globe race could not have started worse for the solo skipper from Port la Forêt: after setting out at 12h02 GMT on November 9th under grey skies and in a freshening south-westerly, Foncia having sailed 200 miles, had to return to les Sables d’Olonne.  A leak in the ballast tank  flooded the engine compartment and burnt out an electrical circuit… After a lightning pit stop, Michel Desjoyeaux set sail again on November 11th, some 360 miles or forty hours sailing behind the leaders, Peyron, Josse, Jourdain and Dick, who were already enjoying moderate downwind conditions in the Portuguese trade winds.  The gap would increase, as Michel had to deal with light airs off the Spanish coast: on November 15th, Michel Desjoyeaux was 670.3 miles behind Loïck Peyron, the leader at that point, the biggest gap that he was to see in his Vendée Globe.

Michel Desjoyeaux Sailing Back into the Lead

Michel Desjoyeaux then began to climb his way back up the fleet: after Norbert Sedlacek off Madeira, Michel Desjoyeaux caught Raphaël Dinelli at the latitude of the Canaries, then Rich Wilson, Unai Basurko and Jonny Malbon before the Cape Verde islands in some brisk trade winds, which did not offer any strategic options. The leaders had been slowed in the Doldrums, but Foncia crossed the Equator at 03h43 GMT on November  23rd in 15th place, 383.5 miles behind the leader. After eight days of upwind sailing to get around the St. Helena high, the monohull was finally able to turn left approaching the Forties: Michel Desjoyeaux took the most extreme westerly option, which allowed him to be back up in thirteenth place by the November 30th .

To the south of the area of high pressure in the Atlantic, he would step up the pace to make his way into the Top Ten on December 3rd, 193 miles behind Sébastien Josse, who was about to reach the first Ice Gate.  When he passed the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope, he was only 89.5 miles behind, as the winds in the Southern Ocean began to strengthen.  The position of icebergs that had drifted up from the Weddell Sea led the Race Directors to modify the course: the Ice Gates would almost all be shifted northwards, but this did not stop Michel Dejoyeaux from encountering ice on December11th just before he left the Kerguelen to port.

Michel Desjoyeaux Stays in the Lead

The seas in the Indian Ocean were violent and a series of incidents saw a number of boats damaged and forced out of the race: Loïck Peyron, Bernard Stamm, Dominique Wavre, Yann Eliès, Jean-Pierre Dick and Mike Golding… while the skipper of Foncia clocked up the greatest distance covered in 24 hours of the whole race: 466.6 miles in 24 hours on 16th December, the day when he crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, and grabbed the lead. Keeping up an extraordinary pace, Michel Desjoyeaux entered the Pacific on 19th December 59.1 miles ahead of Roland Jourdain and already 400 miles ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h. The Pacific was to be particularly nasty.  While Michel just avoided a disaster on 25th December, which could have so easily have forced him to retire, Sébastien Josse was knocked down by a huge wave.  This was a sharp reminder of the sea state in this active cold front that the two frontrunners managed to catch enabling them to extend their lead.

Michel Desjoyeaux rounded Cape Horn less than 100 miles ahead of Roland Jourdain, but the rest of the fleet was now more than 700 miles behind.  The sailor from Port la Forêt took advantage of the situation to make up the time lost at the start to improve on  Vincent Riou’s 2004 record by two hours.   The climb back up the Atlantic was another very fast stretch.  At the Equator, Michel Desjoyeaux was practically a day ahead of the 2004 time with Roland in second place more than 330 miles behind.  While the Doldrums were not very cooperative, the final section of the course was a real sprint: just twelve days to complete the stretch, bringing Michel Desjoyeaux his second Vendée Globe win.

Michel Desjoyeaux information:

  1. (news about Michel Desjoyeaux)
  2. Foncia – Michel Desjoyeaux (Michel’s Boat)
  3. Michel Desjoyeaux’s blog
  4. Michel Desjoyeaux Interview

Read more about: the Vendee Globe

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