French Sailor Gabart Wins Round-the-World Race in Record Time

French yachtsman Francois Gabart won
the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world sailing race after 78 days
at sea, setting a world record and becoming the youngest person
to win the competition.

Gabart, 29, crossed the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne
on France’s Atlantic coast in his yacht Macif at 15:18 a.m.
local time today, the race organization wrote on its website.

The Vendee Globe, held every four years and now in its
seventh edition, is the only single-handed, non-stop around the
world sailing competition. Seven of the 20 competitors abandoned
the 2012-13 race for reasons ranging from dismasting to
collisions with fishing boats, while another was disqualified
for receiving outside help.

Gabart set a round-the-world record for a solo sailor in a
mono-hull boat. The previous fastest time of 84 days was set by
France’s Michel Desjoyeaux in the previous Vendee Globe,
according to the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

The winner, who competed in the race for the first time,
sailed more than 24,000 nautical miles (44,450 kilometers) over
78 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Other competitors
haven’t yet crossed the finish line. Gabart came in before
compatriot Armel Le Cleac’h on the boat Banque Populaire and
beat British sailor Alex Thomson on the yacht Hugo Boss.

Thomson overtook Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac Paprec 3, who
continued to race after losing his keel on Jan. 21 about 2,000
miles from the finish.

Five Hours

The competitors set off in their 60-foot (18-meter) carbon-
fiber keelboats
from Les Sables d’Olonne in November to circle
the globe via the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Horn. On average,
the sailors get five hours of sleep a day of during 11 weeks or
more of racing, according to the organization.

Macif was launched in August 2011, making it one of the
most recent boats in the fleet, and weighs 7.7 metric tons. The
Open 60-class yacht can carry a downwind sail area of 570 square
meters (6,135 square feet), more than twice the surface of a
tennis court.

Most boats have corporate funding, with insurer Macif SA
sponsoring Gabart, Groupe BPCE’s Banque Populaire backing Le
Cleac’h, clothing maker Hugo Boss AG (BOSS) for Thomson and drugmaker
Virbac SA (VIRP) and waste-management company Paprec SA for Dick.

Macif is sponsoring Gabart with 8 million euros ($10.8
million) over a four-year period through the end of 2014,
including 3 million euros to build his yacht, Challenges
reported on Jan. 25, citing Catherine Antonetti, the insurer’s
communications director.

The world record for a non-stop, single-handed
circumnavigation was set by Francis Joyon in the trimaran IDEC,
in January 2008, taking 57 days. A trimaran has a central hull
and outriggers on both sides.

Ellen MacArthur set the record for fastest woman solo
sailor around the world, in 71 days, on the trimaran BQ in
2005. The record for a fully crewed non-stop sail around the
world is held by Loick Peyron, who skippered the trimaran Banque
Populaire 5 around the globe in 45 days last year.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at;
Fabio Benedetti-Valentini in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Claudia Carpenter at

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