Barcelona-born sailor Albert BARGUÉS and French yachtswoman Servane ESCOFFIER sailed into home waters this morning at 06:55:02 UTC to finish the Barcelona World Race in fifth place.
The pair crossed the line after an epic 108 days, 18 hours, 55 minutes and 2 seconds at sea, sailing a total distance of 27,892 miles at an average speed of 9.45 knots! They are the fifth and final of nine starters to finish, with the four remaining boats, Veolia Environnement, Estrella Damm, Delta Dore and PRB all retiring earlier in the race.
The Spanish-French duo, one of only two mixed crews in the race, were the least experienced in terms of circumnavigations; a first round the world race for 26 year old ESCOFFIER, and the first offshore experience in 20 years for BARGUÉS, for whom the arrival in his home city was particularly emotional,
BARGUÉS commented: "This race was for me a sheer pleasure! I am now a fully satisfied man and even if I shouldn't say 'never again', I don't feel like I would need to sail around the world again because this race has completely fulfilled me!"
However Educación sin Fronteras, along with race winner Paprec-Virbac 2 were the only two teams to complete the Barcelona World Race without stopping - an impressive accomplishment for both crew and boat; the former "Kingfisher" was the oldest on the fleet by two generations, although already sporting an impressive track record (a second place finish in the 2001 Vendée Globe with Ellen MACARTHUR and victory in the 2002 Route du Rhum).
ESCOFFIER said: "Well today it is simple, I am just the happiest girl! This is an extraordinary moment and I am so glad to see my family and friends again. After this fabulous race with Albert, we are now sure that the planet is absolutely round, I wasn't certain before!'
"The beautiful old lady"
as ESCOFFIER affectionately referred to their boat, had miles under the keel, and proved to be a solid and reliable choice, if not competitive on the race track,
"After so many miles the boat is like a person - we were three people not two, and the relationship is really special. Every day of the race you sail the miles thinking about the finish. Yet on arrival you always feel sad to leave; the boat takes care of you - it is your home, and your head, and I am proud of her."
Educación sin Fronteras was consistent and conservative in their strategy, always cautious to avoid the most stressful weather patterns, yet also proved fast - and in the roaring forties the crew experienced amazing surfing conditions accompanied by some of the best speeds on the fleet.
Although an important distance behind the leaders throughout the race, both BARGUÉS and ESCOFFIER were clear as to their objectives from the beginning.
The backing of charity organization Educación sin Fronteras (literally Education beyond boundaries) was also significant as the representation for the French-Spanish tandem, enabling a heightened awareness of the more human aspects of the race on a global level - with educational as well as sporting implications.
BARGUÉS and ESCOFFIER continuously shared a sincere, open and extremely sensitive vision of their personal round the world experience.
"I hope that every sailor has this experience at least once,"
exclaimed ESCOFFIER on passing Cape Horn, "It is amazing. Sometimes in the bitter wind and cold you ask yourself 'why am I doing this?' then after Cape Horn, you know why..."
At 26 years old, the youngest co-skipper in the race has a gleaming future ahead of her after a true voyage of initiation; to the tough sailing of the world's harshest oceans and to the concept of double-handed racing, a challenge on its own:
"This is a very big experience in my young life,"
she admitted a few days before the finish, "I never thought I could do this just two years after turning professional. I am very lucky, it is an incredible adventure - I have learnt so much, especially on a human level. Three months every day with just one person is a new challenge; important for my future and will remain in my memory forever."
The Atlantic stretch in particular provided the pair with "champagne" sailing conditions, the chance to appreciate the sheer pleasure of life at sea, to come closer to the leaders, and have the opportunity to reflect on the sheer scope of their achievement:
"The arrival is a very special part of this round the world trip,"
said BARGUÉS a few days before finishing, "Until I live that, my overall understanding of the experience won't be complete. There will be a lot of changes in my life, because I have been fighting hard to do this round the world race for many years and now I understand, and assimilate things a lot better. If just one day on land can change a person imagine what 100 days at sea can do! I have never been at sea for so long and of course it has changed me - and hopefully for the best!"
Barcelona World Race - www.barcelonaworldrace.org