Yet again in the Vendée Globe 2000, Les Sables d'Olonne witnessed two arrivals within the space of just three and a half hours after 111 days racing.
After a nail-biting match race to the finish in strong, squally winds and big seas across the Bay of Biscay, first to arrive on the horizon was Bernard Gallay (Voila.fr). The Franco-Swiss skipper crossed the line at 0818hrs and 11 seconds, therefore totalling 111 days, 16 hours, 7 minutes and 11 seconds in order to complete his circumnavigation.
Gallay has, moreover, finished 8th in the race rankings and completed his second Vendée Globe. His first impressions were, "In my first Vendée Globe, I just had the hardest experience, it was all physically tough, which constrained me to make two stop-overs. This time my boat, the ex-Geodis, just gave me only pleasure. I practically had no problems and the boat is still in such good nick. Undoubtedly I missed out a bit on the competition at the start. I hadn't sailed such races for a long time and made my major error with the weather in the Bay of Biscay. But the Atlantic climb was good and I caught up ground and places."
Josh Hall (EBP/Gartmore) was spotted on the horizon just 3 hours later, and surfed into Les Sables d'Olonne with just the storm staysail up in big, gusting winds, and a lumpy sea. He crossed the line at 1159hrs and 2 seconds in 9th place, the last of the three British skippers to finish the course. The first words shouted were: "I just had 70 knots of wind 10 miles from the line!" He was unable to enter the channel due to the tide barrier, until 1730hrs French time, at which time the whole world it seemed had gathered at the harbour entrance, the sun pushed through the storm clouds, the sea had levelled off and the wind eased too. Josh Hall hoisted his colourful, animated main sail and cruised magnificently in to the harbour to the cheers of an innumerable crowd. Present among them, Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) and Mike Golding (Team Group 4) added their shouts of congratulation, and eventually the three British skippers, all top 10 finishers, chatted together after the press conference.
Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) was heard on the radio chat this morning to have been in raptures. Not only has he sailed through the Doldrums without stopping, and is expected to pick up SW winds soon to push him fast towards home, but he has also had a miracle catch of fish! "I've hooked up this lighting system to illuminate my sails and the flying fish just head right into them. Two days ago I caught 20 and last night I found 30 on the deck! I boil them quickly, not forgetting to add some seaweed of course."
On Wednesday afternoon at 1330 hrs French time, Catherine Chabaud (Whirlpool) left La Coruna with two team members aboard. She is expected into port on Saturday morning.
Joe Seeten (Nord Pas de Calais/Chocolats du Monde) - Sunday/Monday
Yves Parlier (Aquitaine Innovations) - 14/15th March