- Parisian Patrick is Virtual Regatta champion
- IWC timepiece is reward for hours of dedication
ALICANTE, Spain, July 7 – If you think Ian Walker has reason to celebrate after beating six other skippers to win the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15, then imagine how Patrick Babin feels right now – he defeated more than 200,000 rivals to win the official virtual game version of the nine-month marathon.
Courtesy Virtual Regatta / Volvo Ocean Race
Patrick’s prize for his success, which like Walker’s demanded huge dedication from October to June, is an IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph Ocean Racer timepiece worth €12,500.
The Parisian put himself in pole position to win the Virtual Regatta race after clinching Leg 7, but was not able to relax until the finish line in Gothenburg, just like the real racers at the end of last month.
“The guy in second place was hot on my heels when we left Lorient and I had to control him,” he said. “The race wasn’t won yet. I managed to finish the last leg in third place so it ended well.”
It certainly was not all plain sailing through all nine legs, though.
“I was 238th in one of the long legs early on,” he said. “These legs were the same challenge for the game players as they were for the sailors – except that there were many, many rivals for us.
“That makes for a lot more possibilities in the longer legs where all options are explored. It’s harder to win then.”
So what motivated Patrick, a former national dinghy champion, to devote hour after hour to the Game?
“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,” he said.
“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' time.”
Jon Bramley, news and media director for the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “Our sincere congratulations go to Patrick and all the players of the game for the 12th edition.
“The dedication and expertise needed to win the virtual race over nine months is incredible – lose your focus for a few hours and all your hopes can disappear.”
Philippe Guigné, president and founder of Virtual Regatta, added: "I want to thank in particular all the Volvo Ocean Race team who participated in the success in the Virtual Game and who made it possible for our virtual sailors to get inside the skins of the Volvo skippers over nine months around the world.”