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Jean-Luc Van Den Heede is the winner of the Golden Globe Race

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, winner of GGR 2018-2019
© DR

Seventy three year old French sailing legend Jean-Luc Van Den Heede today won the Golden Globe Race, a solo non stop round the world race which was set up to replicate the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race some 50 years after Sir Robin Knox Johnston won the inaugural race and in so doing became the first person to non stop around the world.

This modern version of the original race sought to mirror much of the back to basics sailing technolgoy of the bygone age and so did not permit the solo skippers to use modern day electronic navigation instrumentation.
Veteran Van Den Heede completed his sixth circumnavigation today some 212 days after leaving Les Sables d'Olonne.

As a comparison the Vendée Globe solo record is 74 days set by Armel Le Cléac'h on the 2016-17 race.
Now aged 79 the British knight of the realm 'RKJ' was in Les Sables d'Olonne today to welcome 'VDH'.

The French sailor also takes over from Sir Robin as the oldest solo skipper to complete a solo round the world race, five years older than when the Englishman finished the Velux 5 Oceans Race at the age of 68. VDH took 100 days less than Sir Robin did in the original Sunday Times Race when he raced his Suhaili, a William Atkins designed 32 foot teak ketch.

Van Den Heede sailed Matmut, an English designed and built Rustler 36 of 10.77m.  VDH held on to his lead even after capsizing in the Pacific which required him to repair his rigging.

"It's more important to have morale than physical strength," he said when he finished.

Of the 18 sailors which started from Les Sables d'Olonne only five are still in the race. The closest challenger to Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, the Dutch sailor Mark Slats, has chosen to take shelter from a Biscay gale by La Coruna.

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