Frenchman Franck Cammas sealed victory in the Volvo Ocean Race on Tuesday after his Groupama team made it over the finish line in Galway to build an unassailable lead and complete a great comeback in the nine-month adventure.
Cammas’ victory gives France only their second win in the 39-year history of the offshore race following Lionel Pean’s triumph on board L’Esprit d’Equipe in 1985-86.
Tens of thousands of people came out to welcome the team – which included one Irish sailor in Damian Foxall – to the final stopover port of a race around the world that began in Alicante in October 2011.
Cammas had looked an unlikely winner at the start of the 39,270-nautical mile marathon after making a poor navigation choice in the first leg from Spain to South Africa and finishing well off the pace set by Spanish boat Telefonica, who went on to win the first three legs.
Cammas clawed back the early advantage by the seventh of nine legs and he left his home port of Lorient on Sunday needing just a top-four finish to guarantee victory – something easily within the grasp of his outstanding team.
“This is an incredible moment for me,” said Cammas, 39, who was less than a year old when the first race – then known as the Whitbread Round the World Race – was launched in 1973.
“It was always my dream just to participate in this race. The first book I ever read was about the Whitbread.”
Victory for Spanish/New Zealand team Camper in the final leg secured them second spot overall, with US team PUMA finishing third on the day to seal third overall.