Anyone who has ever made an ocean passage, particularly anyone whos done this on their own, knows firsthand why we must take our hats off to Michel Desjoyeaux, 35, the recent winner of one of sailings most ardous eventsthe Vendée Globe. Desjoyeaux finished this single-handed marathon of attrition around the planet in 93 days, three hours, 57 minutes, and 32 seconds on Saturday night, making him the first person to ever sail around the world alone in less than 100 days. Just surviving this course, which demands more than well-honed racing skill, is a feat. But excelling at it is a true triumph.
The course and the conditions of the Vendée Globe demand resilience, tenacity, fortitude, meteorological mastery, engineering expertise, and more. Beyond its rigorous conditions, this fourth edition of the race fielded the strongest collection of solo sailors ever, with 24 participants crossing the starting line. It was thus the most competitive edition of this odyssey ever. Desjoyeaux rose to the challenge in his first solo circumnavigation, setting a new record that surpasses Christophe Auguins previous mark of 105 days, 20 hours, and 31 minutes by almost two weekssimply remarkable.
Sailing the innovative 60-footer PRB, Desjoyeaux seized the lead some 40 days into the race and didnt relinquish it for the remainder of the contest. In making his initial move atop the leaderboard, Desjoyeauxnicknamed the Professor by his fans and colleaguesperceived a ridge of low pressure forming in the Southern Ocean and rode that past erstwhile leader Yves Parlier to take charge of the event. He later waged a see-saw battle with Roland Jourdain aboard SILL Matines La Potagère, but needed only a few days to establish his dominance.