At 20:49:49 UTC on Monday night, Jean-Pierre DICK and Damian FOXALL steered Paprec-Virbac 2 across the finishing line to win the Barcelona World Race.
Their 25,000 mile journey, non-stop around the planet, has taken exactly three months, and been an impressive display of speed and seamanship.
"This was our whole life, and all our energy and we are obviously very emotional,"
said skipper Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), leaning over the lifelines and addressing the media as his boat pulled up to the pontoon in Barcelona.
The victory has been hard earned and impressive. The dynamic French-Irish duo has held the lead for the majority of the race, fending off early challenges from PRB and Veolia Environnement to grab the lead for good on 7 December. More recently, it's been Hugo Boss clipping at the heels of DICK and Damian FOXALL (IRL) as they made their way back up the Atlantic Ocean.
Real obstacles came in the form of icebergs and equipment breakage. Deep in the southern latitudes, Paprec-Virbac 2 played 'Russian Roulette' with icebergs on several occasions, escaping unscathed, except for the toll the added stress and fatigue had taken on the two skippers.
Shortly after passing through Cook Strait, they hit an object in the water, seriously damaging their rudder system. But the were able to fix this without stopping. Then, after rounding Cape Horn, their forestay broke, and dismasting was a likely outcome. But again, quick thinking and on-board acumen allowed them to fashion a repair that would hold to the finish.
Finally, the ascent up the Atlantic turned into a marathon. First, lighter than normal headwinds slowed their progress. Then, fierce headwinds and terrifying seas made their passage through the Strait of Gibraltar terrifying. Now on the home stretch in the Mediterranean Sea, their food supplies started to run thin, making for a pair of hungry and happy sailors as they crossed the finish line tonight for victory.
"I have done this for years, but today I have done it all. I'm still in shock so I'm not sure what my baby must be feeling,"
said an emotional FOXALL, moments after being handed his seven-month old son. "If I were to stop sailing now, and I'm not saying I will, I have done everything! We lost the forestay in the Atlantic and there were times when we didn't think we would make it but here we are! This is incredible!"
DICK and FOXALL were to be welcomed at the pontoon in Barcelona by family and friends along with their entire team. The Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi HEREU, was on hand to offer his congratulations. And offshore sailing legend Dame Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR), whose OC Events is a co-organizer of the event, paid tribute as well:
"Racing together on a boat for three months, non-stop, under extreme pressure is an amazing test of any partnership. There are very few circumstances in sport like it and it is obvious that Jean-Pierre DICK and Damian FOXALL on Paprec-Virbac 2 have formed an incredibly strong team and have been able to fight hard right to the end of this long race. Every boat competing in the Barcelona World Race has experienced difficult conditions - icebergs, the torture of no wind to storm-force conditions. Paprec-Virbac 2 has held the lead since South Africa and fully deserves to take the finish line in first place. It's a credit to the shore team who have prepared the boat so well and the skippers who then dealt with any breakages on board themselves - including a inner forestay failure off the Brazilian coast a few weeks ago that could have ended their race."
Second placed Hugo Boss crossed into the Mediterranean last night and is due to finish on Wednesday.
Barcelona World Race - www.barcelonaworldrace.org