And so has its virtual version, the Game organised by Virtual Regatta.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing won the real race; Patrick Babin won the virtual one. It’s been a different challenge, but the online victory tastes as sweet to the Frenchman as the real one did to Ian Walker.
Congratulations Patrick! Your Leg 7 victory apart, you must have done well through the race to end up winning overall.
“Yes, it went fine – though the guy in second place was hot on my heels when we left Lorient and I had to control him. The race wasn’t won yet. I managed to finish the last leg in third place so it all ended well.”
Your worst result?
“238th in one of the long legs, early on. These legs were the same challenge for the players than for the sailors – except that we were many, many more [200,000+ players in total]. That makes for a lot of possibilities in longer legs where all options are explored. It’s harder to win then.”
When we spoke after you won Leg 7, you mentioned a group of friends you race with, ‘Trois Petits Neurones.’ Did they accompany you until the end?
“Absolutely. We’re a group of French players and our team exists since 2008. I joined them in 2009. We’re a very tight bunch and we’re online every day during the race so we can solve our problems together.
“We met in Lorient for a big party. In fact, we all did very well towards the end of the race – seven of us were in the top 10 on most of the last legs.
“It’s nicer to play with other people, too. Nine months alone is just sad.”
I heard you won an IWC Yacht Club Chronograph Ocean Racer for your overall victory?
“Yes, it’s a very, very nice watch. I’m looking forward to receiving it.”
And watch aside, how do you look back at this virtual Volvo Ocean Race?
“Everyone dreams of taking part to this race – we can’t do it in real life so the virtual one does the trick! And everyone dreams of winning a leg, let alone the overall ranking. That’s absolutely grandiose.
“We’ve just virtually sailed around the world. How rare is that! And I really enjoyed the international side of it – that doesn’t exist in French virtual races. I’ve received a lot of messages in English; it was great seeing so many people playing around the world. I took the time to answer all of my messages.
“I do hope to play again in two years.”