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Dalin crosses line 1st in Vendee Globe yet unsure of victory

Frenchman Charlie Dalin crossed the line first in the Vendee Globe on Wednesday night after eighty days at sea, yet could not be declared the winner until two other sailors finished in an unprecedented ending to the solo round-the-world race.

The 36-year-old Dalin arrived at 8:30 p.m. local time in his 60-foot monohull Apivia at Les Sables-d’Olonne in west-central France, situated on the Atlantic Ocean.

A smiling Dalin, who is also an architect, stood on top of his yacht and waved, then lit a flare, following 80 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes, 47 seconds of arduous sailing.

French yachtman Charlie Dalin celebrates with a bottle of champagne after crossing first the finish line of the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world sailing race, in Les Sables-d'Olonne, western France, Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021. The final winner of the race will be decided Thursday as some rival were given a time compensation. (Loic Venance, Pool via AP)

“It is a magical race. It has changed me, I am not sure how yet, but it has. So many emotions of such strength, things I have not felt before,” Dalin said. “There are lots of ups and downs on the race with lots of things to fix, but it is a wonderful experience.”

But he had to wait before officially celebrating his first triumph, because German yachtsman Boris Herrmann, who was in third, and Frenchman Yannick Bestaven in fifth, had not yet crossed the line.

Those two will get several hours knocked off their overall finish times for helping in the search and rescue of Kevin Escoffier, who capsized 200 miles west of Cape Horn in late November.

French yachtman Charlie Dalin celebrates with a bottle of champagne after crossing first the finish line of the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world sailing race, in Les Sables-d'Olonne, western France, Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021. The final winner of the race will be decided Thursday as some rival were given a time compensation. (Loic Venance, Pool via AP)

Hermann was to have six hours removed while Bestevan was getting 10 hours, 15 minutes shaved off.

They were both due to arrive in the early hours of Thursday morning.

But Herrmann's chances took a blow when he collided with a fishing boat in the Bay of Biscay late on Wednesday night, around 90 nautical miles from the end, and had to slow down because of a damaged starboard foil.

French yachtman Charlie Dalin celebrates with a bottle of champagne after crossing first the finish line of the Vendee Globe solo around-the-world sailing race, in Les Sables-d'Olonne, western France, Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021. The final winner of the race will be decided Thursday as some rival were given a time compensation. (Loic Venance, Pool via AP)

Jean Le Cam, who sheltered Escoffier on his yacht, was getting more than 16 hours back. But he was in eighth place when Dalin arrived and considered too far back in the running to challenge for victory.

The three sailors diverted course to help search for Escoffier and an independent race jury panel accounted for how much time and distance they lost.

The race, held every four years, also starts from Les Sables-d’Olonne.

It takes sailors around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin in western Australia and South America’s Cape Horn, over some 24,000 nautical miles (about 44,500 kilometers).

“I have been through the Indian Ocean, the Pacific and past Cape Horn," Dalin said. “It is incredible how many things I have done. It makes me tired to think I did all that.”

Frenchman Armel Le Cleac’h won the previous edition.

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