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  Saturday, 10 February, 2001, 22:37 GMT
Desjoyeaux wins Vendee race
Michel Desjoyeaux opens a bottle of champagne
The champagne flows at the end of the race
French skipper Michel Desjoyeaux crossed the finish line of the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race on Saturday evening.

He sailed into the western French port of Les Sables-d'Olonne at 1908 GMT and set a new event record after more than 93 days at sea.

The previous best was set at 105 days by Christophe Auguin in 1996.

More than 25,000 people turned out to greet Desjoyeaux as he completed the race.

"I was scared that I would finish at the final stretch and that I would end up losing," said a relieved Desjoyeaux.

Desjoyeaux sails across the finish
Desjoyeaux sails across the finish
"I was close to tears when the first people I could see were my team-mates alongside as I came in."

The 35-year-old set out on his 18.28-meter (60.3-foot) "PRB" yacht from Les Sables-d'Olonne on 9 November along with 23 other skippers.

The non-stop voyage took the Frenchman from west to east, across three oceans and around three capes, and covered nearly 40,000km (25,000 miles).

Desjoyeaux won the 80,000 first prize, but finished only 250 miles in front of Ellen MacArthur in what is the closest finish in the race's history.

Ellen's tribute

The British yachtswoman paid tribute to Desjoyeaux by radio from her boat.

"My congratulations to Mich, he's sailed a great race, and I'm very happy that we've been able to race against each other right up to near the finish line," she said.

Ellen MacArthur
Ellen MacArthur is expected to finish on Sunday
MacArthur, who is in second place, is expected to reach the finish late on Sunday.

She continues to limp home nursing a weakened mast after rigging that strengthens it snapped on Wednesday.

MacArthur briefly took the lead last week, capping an extraordinary three weeks that saw the 24-year-old wipe out Desjoyeaux's 750-mile (1200-kilometer) advantage as the pair raced up the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Horn.

Fourteen other skippers apart from from Desjoyeaux and MacArthur are still in the race.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane O' Brien
"It was the experience of the Frenchman that finally outdid 24 year old Ellen MacArthur"
BBC News' Jon Sopel
"Tonight belongs to Michel Desjoyeaux"
Ellen MacArthur in the Vendee Globe race

Home-coming heroine

Race news

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