Jean-Luc Van Den Heede (left) with SIr Robin Knox-Johnston

Golden Globe victor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede has written his name into the record books, becoming the oldest sailor in history to complete a round the world race – quite apart from winning it.

The 73-year old Frenchman now has six solo circumnavigations under his belt, and snatched the record from old friend Robin Knox-Johnston who completed the Velex 5 Oceans Race in 2007 aged a mere 68.

Van Heede’s Rustler 36 Matmut pitch-poled and required repair at sea

Van Den Heede led the Golden Globe Race since passing the Cape of Good Hope. At one point he and his Rustler 36 Matmut built up a 2,000 mile lead over second-placed Dutchman Mark Slats, but Matmut pitch-poled during a ferocious Southern Ocean storm 2,000 miles west of Cape Horn. Damage sustained to the mast meant Van Den Heede considered a Chile stopover for repairs, but that would have ruled him out of the main contest. He repaired the damage at sea instead, in a saga involving numerous ascents of the mast, and continued under reduced sail.

Slats narrowed the lead, and by the Azores, Van Den Heede’s advantage was less than 50 miles. Then the French veteran delivered a master class in ocean racing tactics to pull back a 400 mile advantage over his 41-year old pursuer.

The oldest competitor, Jean-Luc van den Heede, 73, five time solo circumnavigator, in the start areaThis Article was originally sourced from Sailing Today and can be directly viewed here.