Frenchman crosses internet finish line 36 hours after Michel Desjoyeaux

While the remaining 10 Vendee Globe sailors battle it out in the Atlantic, thousands of armchair yachtsman from all over the world are competing against each other on the same route – in cyberspace.

More than 300,000 internet users have been taking part in a three-month long online yachting game, Virtual Regatta, ‘sailing’ the same course as the Vendee, with the actual weather conditions recreated online.

And on Tuesday, 36 hours after Michel Desjoyeaux arrived triumphant at Les Sables d’Olonnes, Hugues Fournier, a 31-year-old software developer from Laval, near Rennes, France, crossed the virtual finish line, winning 10,000 euro.

The game, created by French company ManyPlayers, attracted more than ten thousand times the number of participants than the real-life Vendee Globe. Players use a web page showing an interactive map which shows the actual weather conditions and wind speed at specific locations as well as boat speed and compass directions.

Philippe Guigne, founder of ManyPlayers, said: ‘The game allows the players to get into the skin of the skippers … the Internet is a way of turning people from spectators into actors …There’s also a sense of community – a lot of players sign up just because their friends did and they want to compete against each other,’ he said.

Yachting Monthly’s photographer, Graham Snook, whose highest position in the race was 135th but who is currently sailing in 77,711th place, offered Monsieur Fournier his warmest congratulations.