Sunday, February 22, 2009

Arnaud Boissières finishes seventh in Vendée Globe

[Source: Vendée Globe] At 14h35'50" GMT today (Sunday 22nd February) Arnaud Boissières, the skipper of Akena Vérandas, crossed the finish line of the 2008-2009 Vendée Globe in seventh place after 105 days 02 hours 33 minutes and 50 seconds of racing averaging 11.04 knots on the water covering 27,841 miles. He sailed the 24,840 theoretical miles at an average speed of 9.85 knots.

A teenage dream came true today. At the age of seventeen, he was present with his father at the start of the first Vendée Globe in 1989. It was a trip to Les Sables d¹Olonne to see the first Vendée Globe heroes and to forget the leukaemia, which had been discovered six months before. After two and a half years of chemotherapy, Arnaud Boissières decided to earn his living from his passion for the sea. Cali raced in the 1999 Mini Transat when terrible conditions decimated the fleet. His boat was dismasted, but he completed the race after a pit stop in France. He raced twice subsequently, finishing third in 2001.

Arnaud Boissières finishes seventh in Vendée Globe. Les Sables d'Olonne, 22 February 2009. Photo copyright Pierrick Contin / Vendée Globe

He also worked as a preparateur for Yves Parlier and Catherine Chabaud and sailed with Olivier de Kersauson on his Oryx round the world race attempt. Today, twenty years after the first Vendée Globe, his life has come full circle back to Les Sables d¹Olonne, where today he was welcomed by tens of thousands of spectators, as was the case for the six competitors, who finished before him.

In this particularly tough Vendée Globe, making it back to Les Sables d¹Olonne is in itself an achievement. Cali, as Arnaud is nicknamed, could never have imagined finishing seventh, when he set out. The icing on the cake after a round the world race that he managed prudently on his Open 60 which was launched back in 1998.

A Finot-Conq design with a fixed keel that finished sixth in the hands of Thomas Coville in 2001 and fifth with Sébastien Josse in 2005, apart from a ripped solent, a broken wind generator and a satellite dome ripped off in the Pacific, he did not suffer any major damage, in spite of going through some severe storms, including one at Cape Horn, which he rounded for the first time on 16th January.

After a long struggle with Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson, Arnaud Boissières got left behind in the climb back up the Atlantic, where he was handicapped by his torn solent. After a final North Atlantic low on 6th February, Cali completed his Vendée Globe in light airs in the Bay of Biscay. A gentle finish, mirroring the character of the skipper, whose quiet determination ensured that the project was smoothly run from the beginning to the end.



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