(Reuters) – Frenchman Yannick Bestaven was declared the winner of the Vendee Globe round-the-world sailing race in the early hours of Thursday after he was handed a time bonus of over 10 hours for his role in rescuing a fellow competitor.
The 48-year-old aboard ‘Maitre CoQ IV’ finished with a time of 80 days, 13 hours, 59 minutes and 46 seconds, crossing the line after compatriots Charlie Dalin and Louis Burton at Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
However, a time compensation of 10 hours and 15 minutes for his role in the rescue of Frenchman Kevin Escoffier – whose boat sank during the race – meant Bestaven finished with a better time than Dalin and Burton, who finished second and third.
“I feel like I’m living a dream, hallucinating,” Bestaven said as fireworks lit up the sky. “We go from total solitude to this, to this party, to these lights.”
Bestaven was one of four skippers asked to locate Escoffier, who was eventually rescued in heavy seas off the Cape of Good Hope, more than 11 hours after his yacht broke in two on Nov. 30 last year.
Germany’s Boris Herrman was in the reckoning for a podium finish on Wednesday but his hopes faded when he struck a fishing boat around 90 miles from the finish line.
Held every four years, the Vendee Globe is an endurance race that begins and ends in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. The 2020-21 race is the ninth edition.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)