Vendee Globe - 1330 - 01/3/01

Ed Gorman reports as Josh Hall sails across the finish of the Vendee, grinning from ear to ear

Thursday March 1st 2001, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
Josh Hall at the helm of EBP/Gartmore became the third British skipper to complete the Vendee Globe today when he crossed the line outside Les Sables d'Olonne to take ninth place.

Hall brought his immaculate-looking yacht to the finish under storm staysail only, as gale force winds and squalls blew in from the Bay of Biscay. Hall who now lives in France, was beaming from ear to ear as he crossed the line at 10.59 GMT, after 111 days 19 hours and 48 minutes at sea.

Just under three hours earlier the Frenchman Bernard Gallay in voila.fr - the former Vendee-winning Geodis from four years ago - came home under full main to pip Hall for eighth place. While both sailors are well outside Christophe Auguin's previous record in Geodis of 105 days, it is noteworthy that Hall's time would still have been good enough for second place four years ago, underlining just how much quicker this Vendee has been.

Hall started the race with only outside hopes of victory despite sailing a state-of-the-art boat with some of the most advanced sails in the fleet. The race went quite well down the Atlantic but Hall encountered probably more calm weather in the Southern Ocean than anyone else in the 24-strong fleet with one period of almost two weeks when he battled light winds. He was then afflicted by calms after Cape Horn and then again off the
Brazilian coast.

After finishing the race he decided to stay on Gartmore while he awaited the flood tide to enable him to enter the harbour in the afternoon. Waiting to greet him were hundreds of well-wishers including his two young children, his parents and his French girlfriend, Freddie. Also there to welcome him home were Ellen MacArthur and Mike Golding.

Speaking during his last night at sea, Hall said he would be "the happiest guy in the world" when he finished the race. "It's been quite the most amazing experience and although I could cry at my fortune with the weather for the second half of the race I am not disappointed - the race has been fantastic and I have loved it, though I won't do it again," he said.

"For a sailor to spend four months non-stop on the sea is such a wonderful thing and I know I will miss it when it stops...however I am very ready to see Freddie, friends and family, especially my kids. I will also enjoy eating a lot of nice food very soon. Considering the weather of the last 24 hours, both Bernard and I could have done without a match-race. Close-reaching in some horrendous seas last night was the worst time of the race for me. We slammed over every wave extremely hard but I wanted to try and win some miles on Bernard, so the foot was on the gas. No sleep and to be honest I was amazed the mast is still upright today."

He added: "There has been a lot of shipping today, but the strangest thing was I spotted an orange sail ahead. I thought it was Bernard but no - it was a cruising boat on the same course with storm sails up - orange ones. I dont know what he thought as we gassed past him with full main and Solent at a steady 18 knots, spray flying everywhere and me the mad skipper at the helm in dry suit and ski-goggles. I am sure he thinks it was a dream. Well, this has been a dream race for me and to the many, many people who have helped me achieve this dream I would like to say a huge thank-you - it's your turn next time."

Latest positions at 1100 hrs GMT, 01/3/01

1 PRB Michel Desjoyeaux : 10 February 2008hrs 32 sec
2 Kingfisher Ellen MacArthur : 11 February 2036hrs 40 sec
3 Sill Matines & La Potagère Roland Jourdain : 13 February 1713hrs 33 sec
4 Active Wear Marc Thiercelin : 20 February 1248hrs 49sec
5 Union Bancaire Privée Dominique Wavre : 22 February 1858hrs 12sec
6 Sodebo Savourons la Vie Thomas Coville : 22 February 2335hrs 0sec
7 Team Group 4, Mike Golding: finished
8 Voilà.fr, Bernard Gallay: finished 0718 Thursday 01/03/01
9 EBP - Défi PME - Gartmore, Josh Hall: finished 1059 Thursday
10 Nord Pas de Calais - Chocolats du Monde, Joe Seeten 719 nm
11 VM Matériaux, Patrice Carpentier 902nm
12 Aquarelle.com, Simone Bianchetti 1933 nm
13 Aquitaine Innovations, Yves Parlier 2965 nm
15 DDP - 60 èmeSud, Didier Munduteguy 3998
14 Wind Pasquale de Gregorio, 5002 nm

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