Skip to content

A Hero’s Welcome in the Vendée Globe

Dalin's finish
Charlie Dalin was first to finish the Vendée Globe, though he corrects out to second place overall due to redress awarded to Yannick Bestaven.
© 2021 Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

While the majority of the fleet is still ascending the Atlantic, the frontrunners in the Vendée Globe have returned to a hero’s welcome in Les Sables-d’Olonne, France. Nine boats finished within two days of the leader. The closest edition in the event’s history, this race remained almost impossibly close until the very end. In an unprecedented series of events, the third boat over the finish line has been declared the overall winner. Yannick Bestaven, skipper of Maître CoQ IV (ex-Safran), has won the Vendée Globe by 2 hours, 31 minutes over Charlie Dalin on Apivia.

Dalin and Bestaven on land
Line honors winner Charlie Dalin (left) and eventual winner Yannick Bestaven (right) exchange pleasantries after a hard-fought finish in Les Sables-d’Olonne.
© 2021 Yvan Zedda / Alea

Sailing into Les Sables-d’Olonne in a high-speed downwind jibing duel among the top five boats, the eventual winner remained a mystery until the final hours and minutes of the race. Pre-race contender Charlie Dalin narrowly led Louis Burton and Bureau Vallée 2. But he still had to contend with third-place Boris Herrmann on Seaexplorer — Monaco Yacht Club, fifth-place Yannick Bestaven, and eighth-place Jean Le Cam on Yes We Cam!, all of whom had time credits applied to their finish times due to aiding in the rescue of PRB skipper Kevin Escoffier nearly two months ago. Applying basic math corrections, five or six boats still had a chance to win during the last two days of the race.

German skipper Boris Herrmann had a legitimate shot at overall victory until 90 miles from the finish when his one-generation-old IMOCA 60 collided with a fishing boat. Sustaining damage, Herrmann reduced speed and wound up fifth. Charlie Dalin on the new-generation Apivia finished first over Louis Burton and his one-generation-old Bureau Vallée 2. Yannick Bestaven came home third. Bestaven corrected out to first place overall, however, once the 10-hour, 15-minute time credit was applied. An international jury awarded him the credit due to the time he lost while searching for PRB skipper Kevin Escoffier, who was in a liferaft after his boat broke in half in the Southern Ocean.

Boris Herrmann at the finish, with flares
Boris Herrmann on Seaexplorer — Yacht Club de Monaco was in contention for the overall win until colliding with a fishing boat. In this photo, one can see visible damage to his yacht, including the broken bowsprit and pulpit behind which Herrmann is standing.
© 2021 Yvan Zedda / Alea

Bestaven — previously best known for inventing the Watt&Sea hydrogenerator and winning the Mini Transat and the Transat Jacques Vabre in the Class 40 division — has sailed a masterful race aboard his one-generation-old Maître CoQ IV. A professional racing sailor and engineer by trade, Bestaven flew under the radar of a majority of sailing writers before this Vendée Globe. With a boat that proved to be faster than previously thought and a skipper very adept at maintaining systems and solving problems, Bestaven proved to be a contender from the start.

Excelling in the Southern Ocean, Bestaven worked his way into third by Cape Leeuwin and first by Cape Horn. With his 10.25-hour time credit, he threatened to run away with the race until becoming nearly becalmed just south of Rio de Janeiro and watching his 440-mile lead run out with the tide. Seemingly out of the money, Bestaven managed to hang with the leaders and scrape out a close and hard-earned victory by the smallest margin in race history.


  1. milly Biller 3 years ago

    I love this !

  2. Memo Gidley 3 years ago

    Great race!! So much admiration for all the sailors!

  3. Ross Angels 3 years ago

    For 80 days I watched this race unfold as a race of masters, anticipating their every move in spite of the roughed out weather reports …they are the best in the world and keep in mind they had less thab 60% of the weather reporting correct accurate data due to the huge drop in air traffic with their 24/7 realtime reports … this little unknown speaks volumes about the skill needed even to get past the start of this adventure and probably contributed to th early Atlantic carnage heading south towards Cape of Good Hope. Actually winning the Vendee Globe,… stuff of dreams, near unimaginable skill, and a little bit of lady luck hanging around your boat… Oh and maybe a UFO or two helping you along in the Southern Ocean run near Cape Town like Jean Mc Cam keeps attracting like he’s tossing out bait for just the right Sunday dinner …
    that last 30 hrs,… should hold me till 2024 gentlemen …thanku all.
    Ross Angel

Leave a Comment

Another of Sailing's Greats Recognized
Jack van Ommen has been awarded the Ocean Cruising Club's 2020 Jester Award in recognition of his years-long journey to circumnavigate the globe before his 80th birthday.
Forecasting More Than the Weather
One of the big challenges for race committees has been understanding the ever-changing guidelines regarding what's allowed in the Bay Area. Thanks to the Yacht Racing Association, that's now become somewhat easier.