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Frenchman Yannick Bestaven clinches Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race in dramatic finish

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France's Yannick Bestaven lifts the trophy after winning the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world sailing race, in Les Sables-d'Olonne, France, early Thursday, Jan.28, 2021.
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Yohan Bonnet/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

France’s Yannick Bestaven was crowned the winner of the Vendée Globe round-the-world solo yacht race on early Thursday morning after 80 days at sea.

The race concluded in dramatic fashion when competitor Boris Hermann collided with a fishing trawler on the home straight 160 km from port.

Frenchman Charlie Dalin was the first to cross the finish line first off Les Sables d’Olonne, western France, on Wednesday evening at 8.35 pm CET, surrounded by an armada of boats that glittered in red, green and blue.

The 36-year-old, who led the ranking for more than half of the course aboard his latest generation flying boat, had to wait to see if he would be declared the winner of the 2020 Vendée Globe.

Two other competitors, the German Herrmann, who arrived third, and Bestaven, who came in fifth, also crossed the line were also in contention for the race.

Both skippers had time compensation in hand for helping to rescue competitor, Kevin Escoffier, whose yacht sank in heavy seas off Cape Horn on November 30.

These bonuses – six hours for Herrmann and 10 hours and 15 minutes for Bestaven – could only be taken into account once the line had been crossed.

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This was Bestaven’s second attempt after he lasted just 30 hours in 2008. The 48-year-old, from La Rochelle, finished eight hours behind leader Dalin but snatched victory thanks to his time bonus.

“We go from total solitude to this party, these lights, these people who are there despite the complicated context,” Bestaven said after his victory.

“It’s a joy, I don’t realise yet what’s happening, I’m still in my race, even though it’s over. It’s a child’s dream come true.”

Dalin, who finished in 80 days, six hours, 15 minutes and 47 seconds – officially placed second followed by fellow Frenchman Louis Burton, who crossed the finish line second four hours later but came third overall.

Greeted by 300 volunteers, Dalin said: “For sure it has changed me, I don’t know in what way yet… it’s so many emotions, it’s incredible emotions, it’s emotions of a strength that I had never felt before…”

Third-placed Burton said: “It’s a great joy, a great pride to be among the first to cross this finish line. (It is) seven days less than four years ago [when he finished 7th], 75 days more than eight years ago because I had given up after five days”.

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