73-year-old Frenchman wins round-the-world race without modern technology

Jean-Luc van den Heede talks to the press after winning the Golden Globe race.
Jean-Luc van den Heede talks to the press after winning the Golden Globe race. PHOTO: AFP

LES SABLES-D'OLONNE, France (AFP) - A 73-year-old Frenchman won the round-the-world Golden Globe race without the help of modern technology on Tuesday (Jan 29) after 211 days at sea.

Frenchman Jean-Luc van den Heede clinched victory crossing the finish line in the Vendee in the voyage which started in July last year, beating 17 other competitors.

The race involves a gruelling 48,000km solo circumnavigation of the globe in yachts similar to those used in the first race 50 years ago, with no modern technology allowed except the communications equipment.

"What I've done is a big question of mental strength, it's more useful to have strong mental strength than physical strength," said Van den Heede, who completed his sixth round-the-world race.

The sailor who holds the east-to-west world record joked it shows even "at 73 years old you still have good days ahead of you".

"Rediscovering the real roots of navigation like 50 years ago is what excited me about the race," he added.

Van den Heede is a veteran racer having finished in second and third place in the Vendee Globe race during the 1990s.

 

He explained the competitions pose contrasting challenges.

"This race is very different to the Vendee Globe because it's non-stop. The problem with these boats is they suffer and take every blow."

"I didn't see the time go, I didn't get bored. I told myself, 'it's hard, you have to suffer'," he added.

In December, British competitor Susie Goodall was rescued by a Chinese container ship after her yacht was destroyed by a storm in the southern Pacific.

Dutchman Mark Slats is the next of five remaining sailors expected to arrive on the French west coast.