France: Jean Luc Van Den Heede Wins The Golden Globe Race 2018

After 211 days at sea, the Frenchman Jean Luc Van Den Heede was the victor in the re-created Golden Globe Race 2018. The original race was won by Sir Robin Knox Johnson in his 32ft. yacht Suhali and as a tribute to him and the 50th Anniversary of the race, 18 sailors set sail from Falmouth last year around the world, to finish at Les Sables d’Olonne, France. They raced in similar sized yachts to 50 years ago, non-stop and with no modern aids.

Published 4 years ago

It was in 1969 that Robin Knox Johnson won the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe non-stop.  50 years later that race was celebrated when a second Golden Globe race set off from Falmouth on 14th June 2018.  211 days later and the winner is Jean Luc Van Den Heede. He has also become, at the age of 73, the oldest skipper to sail a non-stop circumnavigation.

Van Den Heede is no stranger to racing and circumnavigations having done so five times and is the current holder of the fastest non-stop circumnavigation going west about and against the prevailing winds. In addition, he graced the podium after the 1986 and 1995 BOC Challenge Alone Around the World races and the 1990 Vendee Globe race.

The new Golden Globe emulated the original and the 18 sailors who started the race had to do so in production, full keeled yachts, designed before 1988 and with an overall length of between 32ft. and 36ft. No modern aids, including electronic aids and autopilots, were allowed so navigation was with a sexant using paper charts.

Van Den Heede was meticulous in the preparation of his yacht, Matmut, a 36 ft Rustler, even reducing the size of his mast, which fortunately stayed up after he was knocked down during a storm in the South Pacific. The rigging was, however, damaged to the point that he considered leaving the race and heading for Chile, but instead he carried out repairs to the rigging, climbed the mast a number of times and continued in the race.

Van Den Heede had assumed a strong position in the lead by the time he rounded the Cape of Good Hope. Despite a valiant attack by Mark Slats in another Rustler 36 The Ohpen Maverick, when the lead was reduced from 2,000nms. to 100nms, he eventually won the race, finishing at his home port, Les Sables d’Olonne, two days  ahead of Slats, on 29 January 2019. With the arrival of the first two finishers there only four yachts left in the race.

For further information see:

The Golden Globe Race 2018 –

Jean Luc Van Den Heede –

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