A teenage dream came true on Sunday when Arnaud BOISSIÈRES finished seventh in his first Vendée Globe.
At the age of 17, when he was ill with leukaemia, Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA) was brought by with his father to see the first Vendée Globe heroes and to try and forget fro a few days his illness which had been discovered six months earlier.
At 14:35:50 UTC on Sunday 22 February, BOISSIÈRES, the skipper of Akena Vérandas, crossed the finish line of the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe in seventh place after 105 days, 2 hours, 33 minutes and 50 seconds of racing, averaging 11.04 knots on the water covering 27,841 miles. He sailed the 24,840 theoretical miles at an average speed of 9.85 knots.
Upon his arrival BOISSIÈRES paid tribute to his boat and shore team, "My boat was extraordinary. She already came sixth and fifth and now seventh, so I owe her a lot. It's a bit like Roxy coming first, first and fourth. It is the designers, who came up with these great boats, and I just try to drive it as best I can. I tried not to break anything as I would have been told off afterwards. The first to come out to me this morning was Dee CAFFARI, which was great as we did a lot of the race together and we often communicated with each other. These English sailors are extraordinary and I had a good relationship with Dee in particular. When you see all the people here, you start to wonder if you haven't done something extraordinary. I don't believe I've done anything out of the ordinary. I just sailed her as well as I could,"
After two and a half years of chemotherapy, BOISSIÈRES decided to earn his living from his passion for the sea. He raced in the 1999 Mini Transat when terrible conditions decimated the fleet. His boat was dismasted, but he completed the race after a pit stop in France. He raced twice subsequently, finishing third in 2001.
He also worked as a preparateur for Yves PARLIER (FRA) and Catherine CHABAUD (FRA) and sailed with Olivier DE KERSAUSON (FRA) on his Oryx round the world race attempt.
On Sunday, 20 years after the first Vendée Globe, his life has come full circle back to Les Sables d¹Olonne, where he was welcomed by tens of thousands of spectators, as was the case for the six competitors, who finished before him.
In this particularly tough Vendée Globe, making it back to Les Sables d'Olonne is in itself an achievement. Cali, as BOISSIÈRES is nicknamed, could never have imagined finishing seventh, when he set out. The icing on the cake after a round the world race that he managed prudently on his Open 60 which was launched back in 1998.
A Finot-Conq design with a fixed keel that finished sixth in the hands of Thomas COVILLE (FRA) in 2001 and fifth with Sébastien JOSSE (FRA) in 2005, apart from a ripped solent, a broken wind generator and a satellite dome ripped off in the Pacific, he did not suffer any major damage, in spite of going through some severe storms, including one at Cape Horn, which he rounded for the first time on 16th January.
After a long struggle with Dee CAFFARI (GBR) and Brian THOMPSON (GBR), BOISSIÈRES got left behind in the climb back up the Atlantic, where he was handicapped by his torn solent. After a final North Atlantic low on 6 February, Cali completed his Vendée Globe in light airs in the Bay of Biscay. A gentle finish, mirroring the character of the skipper, whose quiet determination ensured that the project was smoothly run from the beginning to the end.
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 15:00 UTC 22 February 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia, finished after 84 days, 3 hours, 9 minutes
2. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air, finished after 89 days, 9 hours, 39 minutes
3. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran, at 95 days, 3 hours 19, minutes
3. Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB, awarded Redress
4. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy, finished after 95 days, 4 hours 39 minutes
5. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar, 98 days, 20 hours, 29 minutes
6. Dee CAFFARI (GBR), Aviva, at 99 days, 1 hour, 10 minutes
7. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas, at 105 days, 2 hours 33 minutes
8. Steve WHITE (GBR), Toe in the Water, 533 miles to finish
9. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III, at 2235 miles to finish
10. Raphaël DINELLI (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital, at 3152 miles to finish
11. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT), Nauticsport - Kapsch, at 3588 miles to finish
30 boats started
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