Yannick Bestaven (Maître CoQ IV) Wins Ninth Vendée Globe
Yannick Bestaven, the 48 year old French skipper of Maître Coq IV, is the overall winner of the ninth edition of the Vendée Globe. Although he actually took the gun for third place off Les Sables d’Olonne at 3 hours 19 minutes and 46 seconds early morning on November 8, because he carried a time compensation of 10 hours and 15 minutes, awarded by an international jury for his role in the search and rescue of fellow competitor Kevin Escoffier. Bestaven takes victory 2 hours 31 minutes and 1 seconds ahead of Charlie Dalin and 6 hours 40 minutes and 26 seconds of Louis Burton who both finished ahead of him and take second and third respectively.
The skipper of Maître CoQ IV was one of the two skippers who led the fleet for the longest time: 26 days, or 32% of the time an excellent result for the skipper who grew up in Arcachon and has Yves Parlier as his mentor. Bestaven finished in Biscay drizzle on a two metre swell in 20 knots of westerly wind before being warmly welcomed back to Les Sables d’Olonne’s channel where well wishers lined their balconies and streets to acclaim the new winner of the Vendée Globe.
Although he was not tipped among the fancied, possible winners of the race, Bestaven revealed himself as an outstanding performer on his first time in the southern oceans where he was at his best in the Indian Ocean, passing Australia’s Cape Leeuwin in third place and then in the Pacific, emerging first at Cape Horn with a 15 hour lead.
After then building the biggest margin of the race, 440 hard earned miles thanks to a smart climb up the South Atlantic, Bestaven must have thought his chances of winning this Vendée Globe were over, when during three frustrating days all but becalmed south of Rio, he saw his margin evaporate like snow in the hot Brazilian sun.
But the skipper from La Rochelle on the west coast of France, an engineer as well as professional skipper, proved his race winning credentials as he fought back into contention by the Azores. His final, key move proved to be choosing to head north on the Bay of Biscay which allowed him to arrive on the heels of a low pressure system and accelerate faster on a long, direct track into Les Sables d’Olonne over the last 24 hours, chasing Dalin and Burton across the line to hold his time to win outright.
‘My main quality? "Stubbornness". My main flaw “Stubbornness”. "I also am very resilient " admitted Bestaven before the start of the regatta in which 33 sailors, including six women, set sail from Les Sables d'Olonne on November 8, and 25 of them are still in the race. Last-placed Finn Ari Huusela has another 6,200 nautical miles to the finish line. All of them sail on sailboats made with state-of-the-art technology, and some of them have buoys on the hull that create buoyancy and make sailing faster and more stable, and can reach an average speed of about 30 knots. Still, harsh conditions on the ocean prevented it from breaking the record from last year’s edition, held by Armel Le Cleac’h (74 days and three hours). In the previous eight editions, only 89 sailors have completed the race.