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A Fitting Last Hero

Ari Huusela has the honour of closing the course on this 9th Vendée Globe. He is the last to finish the race some 37 days after the first boats. He is just as much of a hero having spent the most time at sea and his finish will mark a suitably magical end to a magnificent human and sporting story.  Friday, around 10 a.m local time Ari, the Finnish airline pilot, will bring this fabulous 2020-2021 edition to a close.

Dernier coucher de soleil avant de rejoindre Les Sables d'Olonne

His name will be registered on the bottom step of the ranking as Jean-François Coste, Jean-Yves Hasselin, Catherine Chabaud, Pasquale di Gregorio (ITA), Karen Leibovici, Norbert Sedlacek (AUT), Alessandro di Benedetto (ITA) and Sébastien Destremau all have.  They are all part of the legend of the Vendée Globe.

163 days, 1 hour and 19 minutes that is the time of the first sailor to be last, Jean-François Coste’s name is engraved in the history of the solo round-the-world tour race. And his time has become and important benchmark as it is included in the Vendée Globe racing rules as it is the reference time for the closure of the finish line. Beyond 163 days at sea, any competitor is classified "out of time".

In 1990, “Costo” came seventh, 54 days after Titouan Lamazou, the winner of the inaugural edition. The gap between the two sailors seems huge - almost two months! -, but he was ‘beaten’ in 2000-2001 by the Italian Pasquale Di Gregorio who finished 15th some 65 days after the winner Michel Desjoyeaux.

In the 1996-1997 race, sixth and last of a terrible edition affected by several boats lost and the disappearance of Gerry Roufs, Catherine Chabaud was also be the first woman to complete a Vendée Globe finishing in 140 days, 4 hours and 38 minutes.

Eight years later in 2004-5 it's another woman, Karen Leibovici is the last to finish after a real obstacle course. In the wake of Catherine Chabaud, Ellen MacArthur and Anne Liardet, Karen is the 4th woman to finish the race.

In 2008-2009, it was the Austrian former train driver who was 42 days after the new double winner Michel Desjoyeaux. Norbert Sedlacek will always be remembered for one of the most iconic on-board images of the Vendée Globe which was taken in the Pacific during this race: him at the helm of his yellow boat in front of a mountainous wave of blue and white crested water rearing up behind his transom.

In 2016-2017, Sébastien Destremau becomes an heroic public figure at the end of his race marked by a long technical stop in Australia. This time he is not be able to complete his race and is be forced to retire into New Zealand.

Ari Huusela becomes the first Finnish and indeed Scandinavian skipper to have completed the Vendée Globe. Tomorrow morning, the Nordic sailor will have achieved his dream after just under 117 days of careful, patient sailing. And he will be celebrated along with the achievements of the best.

"The arrival of the last skipper is always an important moment.” underlines Jacques Caraës, Race Director of the Vendée Globe. “ It is the end of the edition. It is always an extraordinary and moving moment, especially since we have 75% of the boats making it to the finish this year. And of course to to finish on the rankings at all, to make it all the way round is never a given, not everyone makes it.  Ari has managed his race like he no doubt manages the flight of his Airbus: without putting any passenger at any risk at all. He is super discreet, he has never been in the red for very long. He is a careful person, always with his safety harness, even inside the boat. He is totally sincere and adheres to his fundamental, original philosophy, safety first. He is very proud to bring back his boat in perfect condition. And he is in great shape. He is a very great last! "


Vendée Globe editorial staff / Camille El Beze

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