Father-son sailors mark dramatic round-the-world win
GREENWICH — There were cheers in Old Greenwich this weekend, as a father-and-son sailing duo took first-place honors as part of a crew in an around-the-world yacht race.
The Sanya Serenity Coast arrived Friday at the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool, with Benoit Ansart and his son Victor earning big gulps of Champagne as crew members who helped get the boat safely, and quickly, around the globe over the past 11 months. Benoit Ansart carried the burgee, the sailing pennant, of the Old Greenwich Yacht Club with him for the 40,000-mile trek through hurricanes and 30-foot seas.
Now in its 11th year, the Clipper Race is a unique competition that draws many amateur and beginner sailors, along with experienced veterans, into its grueling test of endurance and maritime skill. According to the race organizer, 712 people representing 41 different nationalities, and all walks of life, took part in this year’s race.
Benoit Ansart is one of 73 mariners who did the entire journey; others took part in stages. Victor joined the race and his father for three of the contest’s eight legs: Australia to China; across the Pacific to Seattle; and New York to the finish in Liverpool.
“This has been the best experience of my life. Just to complete the challenge is enough, but winning means so much more than I thought it would,” Victor Ansart, 26, said in a statement. “It is amazing to have raced around the globe and great that we managed to do it just slightly faster than the ten other teams.”
Benoit Ansart, a lifetime recreational sailor, said the completion of the journey was electrifying.
“I had the time of my life. Words can’t express it. It is just incredible,” he said.
Benoit, who moved from France in the 1980s at age 32, said sailing with his son was a father’s dream, as well as a great adventure.
“We just love sailing together, we had the best time and always get along so well,” he said.
Word of the Ansarts’ achievement on the 70-foot-ocean racing yacht was being hailed among sailors in Old Greenwich.
“What an epic adventure,” said the commodore of the Old Greenwich Yacht Club, Patrice Anibal. She noted that hurricanes, icebergs, whales and fishing nets were just a few of the obstacles the sailors encountered.
The Sanya Serenity Coast, sponsored by the Chinese city Sanya, was helmed by an Australian sailor, Wendy Tuck. She became the first woman to win the round-the-world yacht race.