This great lover of life at sea rounded off this wonderful series of heroic Vendée Globe arrivals in style. Alessandro Di Benedetto was the very last sailor to loop the loop after 104 days at sea, aboard a boat called Team Plastique, which has now completed its 4th circumnavigation of the globe. The Franco-Sicilian took 26 days longer than François Gabart to return to Les Sables d’Olonne, which is the smallest gap ever recorded between the first and last place in this race.
Much more important than numbers though, Alessandro gifted us with his circumnavigation of the globe, sharing his delight without restraint and without ever complaining. This was the case despite losing sails and having to make numerous ascents to the top of his mast. He also broke a rib and confronted some nasty gales. Even-tempered, this Vendée Globe figure knew how to convey his precious joie de vivre. And let’s not forget that the sailor had already spent 268 days alone circumnavigating the planet on a 6.50m craft! There isn’t a person alive who could taint his enthusiasm for these maritime adventures and his place in this superb Vendée Globe 2012-2013 vintage, the Imoca Class’ main event, is much deserved. Indeed he embodies the joy of sailing as much as the ability to take up immense challenges.
Alessandro has shown a deep attachment to his own country and to France! And though Sicily is in his heart, evidenced by his virtually gastronomic cooking in the throes of the roaring forties, the skipper has also been adopted by Les Sables d’Olonne, an honour he gives back a hundredfold to its inhabitants. His cheerful voice, his broad smile, his charming singsong accent and all the rare moments shared with the public have bathed this winter race around the planet in glorious sunshine. The race is over, the sailors have all returned to shore and the trees are coming into bud.
Have a lovely spring one and all, and see you at the Vendée Globe again in four years time and in a just a matter of weeks for the first event of the 2013 Imoca season.