Upon arriving at the race finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, DESJOYEAUX said, "Incredible with the sun coming out. Magic! Even if I experienced this eight years ago. Still don't understand how I'm here like this. I just tried to sail my boat as well as I could . A race is won largely before it begins with experience and preparation. Eighty percentage before, twenty percent during the race by working hard. Didn't need to push too hard, wasn't stressed at any point, and it seemed very easy. Even 25 December with rudder problem I dealt with it. I didn't sit there worrying about it."
From successful odyssey into big racing multihulls, DESJOYEAUX returned to monohulls in 2007 when he won the highly competitive Solitaire du Figaro, going on to win the Transat Vabre in late 2007 on his return to the IMOCA Open 60 class in which the Vendée Globe is contested.
DESJOYEAUX crossed the finish on Sunday 1 February at 15:11.08 UTC, after 84 days, 3 hours and 9 minutes of racing. Foncia completed the race in 20 knots of breeze under sunny skies, greeted by a massive armada of spectator boats before being warmly welcomed by huge crowds who gathered along the waterfront and harbour area of Les Sables d'Olonne, where the race departed at 12:02 UTC on 9 November 2008.
The gruelling race has taken a high toll of the 30 skippers who started the non-stop solo round the world race. As DESJOYEAUX finished this afternoon, nine are climbing northwards in the Atlantic ocean while some 7,700 miles behind two are expected to pass Cape Horn and leave the Pacific tomorrow. Eighteen skippers have been forced to abandon. In early December, Yann ELIÈS (FRA) had to be evacuated off his Generali when he sustained a broken femur while working on the bow of his boat, and Jean LE CAM (FRA) was rescued when he capsized off Cape Horn by Vincent RIOU (FRA), the winner of the 2004-5 race.
DESJOYEAUX's Win In Figures
Les Sables-Equator: 13d15h 41' (behind leader Loïck PEYRON by 1 day 06h 43')
Les Sables-Cape of Good Hope: 27d 00h 34' (behind leader Sébastien JOSSE: 4h 56')
Les Sables-Cape Leeuwin: 37d 07h 23' (ahead of Roland JOURDAIN: 50')
Les Sables-Dateline/Antimeridian: 43d 23h 33' (ahead of Roland JOURDAIN: 2h 55')
Les Sables-Cape Horn: 56d 15j 08' (ahead of Roland JOURDAIN: 8h 50')
Les Sables-Equator: 71d 17h 12' (ahead of Roland JOURDAIN: 3 days 05h 52')
Finish: Les Sables-Les Sables: 84d 03h 09'08'' (ahead of second place Roland JOUDAIN: 1,345 miles, third Armel LE CLÉAC'H: 1,632 miles), average 12.3 knots for the actual race course.
DESJOYEAUX 2008 compared with Vendée Globe 2004
Les Sables-Equator 2004: 10d 12h 13' (Michel DESJOYEAUX: 3d 03h 28' behind)
Les Sables-Cape of Good Hope 2004: 24d 02h 18' (Michel DESJOYEAUX: 2d 22h 16' behind)
Les Sables-Cape Leeuwin 2004: 36d 11h 48' (Michel DESJOYEAUX: 19h 35'behind )
Les Sables-Cape Horn 2004: 56d17h 13' (Michel DESJOYEAUX: 2h 05' ahead)
Les Sables-Equator 2004: 72d 13h 58' (Michel DESJOYEAUX: 20h 46' ahead)
Les Sables-Les Sables 2004: 87d 10h 47' (Michel DESJOYEAUX breaks record by: 3d 07h 39')
People attending the return of Desjoyeaux in Les Sables d'Olonne: 125,000 people
DESJOYEAUX On His Victory
On his return to Les Sables d'Olonne, DESJOYEAUX gave his views on the race and his competitors.
DESJOYEAUX on his return to dock at the early stage of the race:
"There was one boat that returned before the others and it was me. I really enjoyed myself during these three months. The first month was quiet enough. The second was tougher and then the third I was with my friend Bilou, which was nice. I hope he will make it back here, as that would be really great for him.
"The 40 hours I spent back here are something you put out of your mind. It's in the past and you need to look the future."
On the return to Les Sables d'Olonne:
"The Mayor promised me a great welcome and for once a politician kept his word.
"Now I'd like to take advantage of life ashore, as I've been taking advantage of life at sea."
On the race:
I suffered a lot less this year. Maybe because I'm older, maybe because I have experience, so I was more at ease. The fact that I was setting out 40 hours later allowed me to find my own pace, as I didn't have to worry about the pace set by others. I kept sailing as I felt like sailing and that seems to have worked out well. I thought it would be impossible to catch up by Australia."
"For two months I've been wondering what was going on. I feel a lot of emotions tonight. For three months life has gone by at a crazy pace. There's the satisfaction of being the first boat back here. I managed to take care of the boat. There are a few little problems. I almost lost my bowsprit and rudders and some stanchions."
"Once it happens it's in the past and you move on, except for the stanchions as I needed to be careful out on the deck. I really enjoyed it. I had fun with the weather and strategy. I saw my first iceberg, but I didn't see the Horn as it was dark."
"Maybe, when Father Christmas was distributing his presents, as I think he got mixed up and tried to take my rudder. I was determined to keep it, so that's what I did. The others are still at sea, so are bound to have had a harder time of it than me. Let me know if you understand why that is. I've been searching for two months. When you look at the list of problems I had, none of them can be blamed on me sailing too fast."
"When I returned [with damage], the shore crews set about working. I didn't have any choice as I really wanted this. Then I just kept sailing as best I could. Whenever I had any problems, they didn't affect me emotionally at all. When I tore my spinnaker, I picked up the bits. When I had my rudder problem, I consolidated the thing and a few hours later I was back to normal racing. I think that meant too that I never felt down after a poor place in the rankings or a bad choice of sail for example. When I restarted, it was an unsual moment for me as I had never been so far from the leader in a race before, so I was able to sail as I thought fit without worrying about the rankings or whether I was faster or slower. It seems that this was the right method in fact."
"Nothing was broken because I pushed the boat too hard. All of the problems, the rudder and bowsprit have nothing to do with the way I was sailing."
"The boats are tougher than a lot of people think. They should see what we put these boats through, as that would shut them up."
"I must have 300 or 400 photos of sunsets, as that is what I prefer. There were never really any tough moments, which is what makes it incredible."
"In early December, I saw a whale coming straight towards me. I thought that was it. That it would get my rudders or damage the hull. And then at the last moment it dived. It must have said 'He looks a tough sort of guy. We'll let him go and win'."
"I learned I was in the lead, because someone had been dismasted. [He was told about Mike GOLDING's dismasting on the radio Vacs] That wasn't something to be happy about. My climb back up the rankings was over. I'd got what I was looking for. It was very strange, because it was hard to find out like that."
"Yesterday my rudder got hit for example in the Bay of Biscay. It was just a pallet, but could easily have been a container. Until you cross that line, you have to hold on to your hat."
On the experience you get when you sail multihulls:
"If Bilou and I were the only two pushing hard at the end, it's because we were used to sailing multihulls. We were used to sailing high performance boats at high speeds without being afraid. So sailing a multihull means I can feel more relaxed on these boats. When you capsize on a multihull, there's nothing left to do, but here when you go over with the mast in the water, it's not a problem really."
"The record is a bonus. This is a race and coming home first is what really matters. We know now though that in four years time they can plan to finish in 80-82 days. Maybe I was not ambitious enough. You'll have to wait and see whether I come back in three and a half years…"
"Time went by really quickly in the past four months or 84 days."
"This is the Vendée that I wanted to race and the Vendee I wanted to win. It looks like I succeeded, as I can't see any other 60 footers in the harbour."
On his temper:
"People around me tell me I'm very demanding and expect a lot from myself. I do what I want and when I'm alone out there, no one can stop me. That's the advantage of solo sailing."
"A few days ago in the trade winds, with Bilou 500 miles behind me, he was sailing in different weather from me and I saw I was doing 0.2 knot more than him, so I went outside and trimmed the sails. 0.2 knot was not enough speed difference for me. I'd never seen that desire to win so much before."
On the retirement of Loïck PEYRON, one of the top favourites, dismasted:
"It was the first time I directly addressed a message to another competitor, saying 'Loïck You've really pissed me off'. I'd just got back up with him. I know Loïck well from mutihull racing and we'd often raced. I was looking forward to battling it out with him. He'd had a good race and a good rhythm in the first month. Physically it couldn't have been easy as he's not that young. He must have worked hard. Seeing him stop did not please me and I was upset for me for him because he was in the rhythm and physically it must have been tough because he's not that young. Compared to the young wolves, he must have a hard time but he was going well, and to see him end like this, I didn't like it, so I yelled at him, and yeah he answered me."
On Bilou and his keel problem:
"I thought Bilou had thrown in the towel. He's capable of anything. I don't know if I would have the courage to attempt what he is trying to do. There's still along way to go. His boat will be slowed. I hope he has enough to eat."
Vendee Globe Leaderboard - 19:00 UTC 1 February 2009
1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia, finished 02/01/09 15:11 UTC
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement, at 1324 miles to finish
3. Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA), Brit Air, at 263.7 miles first place on the water
4. Sam DAVIES (GBR), Roxy, at 1242.4 miles from first place
5. Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA), Safran, at 1329.8 miles from first place
6. Brian THOMPSON (GBR), Bahrain Team Pindar, at 1602.2 miles from first place
7. Dee Caffaari (GBR), Aviva, at 1869.3 miles from first place
8. Arnaud BOISSIÈRES (FRA), Akena Vérandas, at 2274.5 miles from first place
9. Steve Whiate (GBR), Toe in the Water, 3266.7 miles
10. Rich WILSON (USA), Great American III, at 5885 miles from first place
11. Raphaël DINELLI (FRA), Fondation Océan Vital, at 5883.2 miles from first place
12. Norbert SEDLACEK (AUT), Nauticsport - Kapsch, at 7392 miles from first place
RDG . Vincent RIOU (FRA), PRB, Awarded equal third as redress
30 boats started