From the Archives: The Ultimate Experiment

What the sailing world can assimilate from the sport's greatest laboratory, the Vendée Globe, is revealed in the successes and shortcomings of a diverse fleet. From our July 1993 issue.

1993 Vendée Globe article

1993 Vendée Globe article

Sailing World Archives

Close reaching in a Force 5 breeze, Bagages Superior plowed the final miles to the finish off the coast of France. Sailing under solent, double-reefed main, and mizzen, her broad deck heeled only slightly. Approaching the welcoming flotilla, her heel increased. Gautier was releasing water ballast in case he needed to throw in an emergency tack. After nearly 25,000 miles of faultless sailing, the 31-year-old Frenchman was still ready for anything.

The roar of cannon, the chatter of helicopters, and the wild sounding of foghorns announced his success—first in the non-stop, singlehanded Vendée Globe. Cheering crowds were packed 10 deep, straining for a glimpse of the diminutive Gautier as he sailed slowly up the channel into the harbor at Les Sables d'Olonne. The public, who had followed the progress of the race through daily press and television reports, were now uncontrollable.