The virtual version of the Vendée Globe, held on world-leading digital sailing platform Virtual Regatta, was officially won on Saturday 16 January at 11:18am.
Much like the ongoing real-life race, it was an incredibly close-fought affair, with a mere one minute and 35 seconds separating first and second place.
Frenchman Jean-Claude Goudon, known on Virtual Regatta as “tigrou26120,” was the first to cross the finish line, setting a new record of 68 days, 22 hours, 16 minutes and four seconds in the process.
In second place was Ronny Jesse (Tournesol II) from Germany, with a race time of 68 days, 22 hours, 17 minutes and 39 seconds, and in third, Maxime Thomas (Kerjouanno), another French player whose final race time was 68 days, 22 hours, 18 minutes and 34 seconds.
In its fourth edition, the Virtual Vendée Globe attracted a record one million players, with the race starting at the same time as the real-life round-the-world mission on 8 November 2020.
eSailors from all over the world participated; as well as the French and German representation on the podium, skippers from Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Poland and Italy were also ranked highly in the final standings.
This year’s champion Goudon lives in Montélier in the Drôme, southeastern France. A previous virtual winner of the RORC Transat and the Transpac Tahiti, Goudon has been playing Virtual Regatta regularly for over 10 years, and has participated in all four editions of the Virtual Vendée Globe, with his previous best finish 18th place in 2012-13. He is also a keen real-life sailor and often sails for fun in the Mediterranean.
“The Virtual Vendée Globe is the race that everyone wants to win,” said Goudon.
“I caught the eSailing bug in 2008 and since then I have only had one goal: to win the Virtual Vendée Globe.
“I really wanted this victory this year, I was very focused and I am delighted that I managed to reach my goal. I played the game about four times a day when updating the weather files.
“This victory is amazing, I can’t believe it! I am really very happy to win this edition.”
Scott Over, Commercial Director at World Sailing, said, “Our partnership with Virtual Regatta continues to go from strength to strength with an upwards curve of participation in both the Inshore and Offshore game.
“This year’s edition of the Virtual Vendée Globe has been a resounding success and we are delighted to become the first eSport to achieve more than one million cumulative players in a single game.
“In addition to the overall success, we thank Virtual Regatta for their support with the World Sailing Trust’s ‘Race for Change’ and putting the good of the sport at the heart of the platform.
“We’re already looking forward to the next edition of the Virtual Vendée Globe and delivering further exciting eSailing events and projects for an ever-growing community.”
Philippe Guigné, creator of Virtual Regatta, said, “Four years ago, during the last edition of the Vendée Globe, we welcomed 450,000 players. For this new edition, we set ourselves a goal of 1 million players and we managed to achieve this milestone.
“It’s an excellent result and we have done everything to achieve it. I’m very proud of it and I thank my whole team, without whom nothing would be possible.
“This edition is truly exceptional and I congratulate its winner Jean-Claude Goudon. Once again, Virtual Regatta makes it possible to make ocean racing accessible to as many people as possible.”
Yves Auvinet, Chairman of the Vendée Globe, said, “The Vendée Globe sends its warmest congratulations to Jean-Claude Goudon, winner of the Virtual Vendée Globe race.
“We admire his patience in the face of a weather pattern which, as we can see, gave a hard time to even the most seasoned skippers of the Vendée Globe.
“Bravo also for his mastery of the game and for the relevance of his choices! Well done – it is a feat to finish first in a fleet of over 1,000,000 players!”
All Virtual Vendée Globe Winners:
2020 – 2021: Jean-Claude Goudon (tigrou26120), FRA: 68d 22h 16 min
2016 – 2017: Matt Johnson (Mangina-PYR), NZL: 72d 02h 23min
2012 – 2013: Lilian Launay (Llyl), FRA: 74d 16h 59 min
2008 – 2009: Hugues Fournier (inderwelstein), FRA: 85d 19h 45min