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François Gabart, champion of the Vendée Globe with MACIF !

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Monday, 28 January 2013 17:08

MACIF crossed the finishing line in Les Sables d’Olonne at 15:18:40. At the age of 29, François Gabart becomes the youngest winner in the history of the Vendée Globe. This Phileas Fogg of the 21st century completes his first round-the-world in less than 80 days, and even well under, because he has set a new record for the event with 78 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds of racing.

The skipper of MACIF sailed 28 646,55 miles (53,053 km) at an average speed of 15,3 knots (28,33 km) and thus by 6 days and 53 minutes has improved on the previous time of 84 days, 3 hours, 9 minutes and 8 seconds (14,02 knots average on the real route sailed, 28,303 miles) held by Michel Desjoyeaux since 8 February 2009.

François remained in the lead of the race for 45 days and 23 hours, which is nearly two thirds of his Vendée Globe and pocketed six records throughout: an irrevocable victory. This new offshore racing prodigy turns everything he touches to gold since his childhood. This resounding victory in the most hard-fought of events in this discipline proves this once again.

Careful, do not be misled. His broad smile, radiant expression and close shaven beard should not lead us to forget the staggering rhythm with which the winner marked this 7th Vendée Globe. This impossible pace which enabled François to establish the impressive record of 534 miles sailed in 24 hours (22.27 knots), is without question the result of this astounding duel delivered from beginning to end with Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). Full of suspense, the scenario offered by these two fierce racers came to an end this morning, in front of Les Sables d’Olonne, when the young Gabart, finally won the race, just hours before the runner-up.

François Gabart, winner of the Vendée Globe : “It is a huge relief! To the end, you never know what can happen, particularly since the last night was not so easy. For several days I had begun to believe in it nonetheless! We have super boats! As I left, I didn’t think I would be coming back victorious. But in the Indian Ocean I started to believe it was possible. It is a difficult race, but I tried to fight it with equal temperament. I never bowed my head nor gave up, or at least only for a few seconds… Five days after the start, I had a small problem with the engine. It was a little rough, but I managed to fix it. The hardest of all is the length and the constant pace! It never stops! Even in the Bay of Biscay, I was not spared! It’s the calm that I missed most, since we were tossed about a lot – something that doesn’t move anymore – and then of course, my friends, my girlfriend, my son, the life of a landlubber! Thank you Armel Le Cléac’h. What we experienced together was exceptional! For the racers we are, to experience such a confrontation from the inside is a privilege.”

Gerard Andreck, chairman of the group MACIF, sponsors of François Gabart since 2009: ‘‘Some adventures can sometimes exceed our most insane dreams and this is the case with François. We knew that we had discovered gold and that his talent had all the qualities for great achievements, but we never considered such a result, which resounds well beyond the sports result. François has this fascinating ability to federate and conquer everyone around him. It is an astonishing charisma and it is difficult not to fall under his spell. You cannot imagine just how much, even at sea, he was available for the workers of MACIF and the number of people who share his joy today.”

Photo Credit: Vincent Curutchet / Macif