Jean-Luc Van Den Heede Image Credit: AFP

LES SABLES D'OLONNE, France: A 73-year-old French sailor has won an unusual, around-the-world yacht race after 212 days alone at sea without modern instruments - his first sailing victory.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede arrived Tuesday in the harbor of Les Sables d'Olonne in western France in his Rustler 36, the first to finish the 30,000-mile Golden Globe race. Of the 19 sailors who started out last July, only five were still in the race on Tuesday.

Jean-Luc Van Den Heede Image Credit: AFP

Among those greeting Van Den Heede was British sailor Robin Knox-Johnston, who won the only other Golden Globe race - 50 years ago.

The race involves solo sailors navigating with a sextant and paper maps, and communicating only occasionally with the outside world via short-wave radio.