Vendée Globe

Nandor Fa - Winner of the Vendée Globe

Of course, Armel Le Cleac’h finished first on Banque Populaire, but for me the real winner of the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe, was Nandor Fa, the 63 year old, Hungarian sailor, who finished the race in 8th place. He went round the world in 93 days. This might seem slow compared to Armel’s 74 days – but one must remember this was the winning time of the 2000 – 2001 edition. His boat, unlike those of the leaders, did not have foils. And what is more extra-ordinary he designed it and built it himself.

Nandor Fa on Spirit of Hungary crossing the 2016-2017 Vendée Globe Finish Line with his arms raised

Nandor Fa was not sponsored by a big bank like Le Cleac’h or Sébastien Josse on Edmond de Rothschild, nor by a big insurance company like Francois Gabart in the previous edition. He lacked a major sponsor. His boat had the simple name Spirit of Hungary. A name which might seem paradoxical at first, since Hungary is a landlocked country, but which is a reflection of Fa’s belief that dreams should not be stopped by nationality or borders. What is important is Spirit…

Nandor Fa has said this will be his last participation in the Vendée Globe. “In this professional class I do not have a place any more.” When he said this Nandor Fa seemed to be talking about his age and the fact that he would be 67 by the time of the next edition. However one may wonder if what he meant is that there is no longer a place for someone like him. “The future is the flying machines – not humans, not boats…. (The race will be) not boats, not sailors any more, but machines against machines”, he had decried a few moments before.

If he he is right, although the flying machines might become ever more impressive, something of the magic of the Vendée Globe will be lost….