Nearing Doldrums in Brest Atlantiques
Published on November 8th, 2019
(November 8, 2019; Day 4) – The 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques race is in full swing today with the fleet of four maxi trimarans, currently led by Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, speeding towards the equator. This evening’s challenge is managing the wind off the Cape Verde Islands, before they face the big question of the week: where is best to cross the Doldrums?
The four pairs of skippers, all in good spirits, each joined today’s Brest Atlantiques call at the weekly gathering held in Paris. They were delighted to be able to enjoy summer-like conditions after the tough start in the Bay of Biscay. “I thought there was no such thing as sunshine and blue skies, so yes, yes, I can reassure you, there are parts of the world where the weather is incredibly beautiful.
“On the other hand, from time to time, and it has bothered us a lot all night and for the past 24 hours, there have been big squalls that sometimes “eat up” the wind, which is not very good for our speed,” summarized Thomas Coville on Sodebo Ultim 3, in third place at 4pm.
Sodebo Ultim 3 is chasing after the leading duo of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and Trimaran MACIF. They are in a favorable position this Friday as they took advantage of a shift to the east to descend faster than their rivals.
However, Franck Cammas could not be happier about teaming up with Charles Caudrelier: “We know that Macif is going fast all the time, they know the boat very well, they master this kind of offshore sailing, we are very happy to be racing with them, so much the better that we are in front. But it’s only the beginning of the race. It’s a beautiful chess game in the Atlantic, nevertheless.”
On the Trimaran Macif, second in the 4pm position report, 65 miles behind the leader, François Gabart shows good sportsmanship: “Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was very far to the east, they managed to win in the west quite easily, because the wind was stronger in the east last night compared to the forecasts, they took full advantage of it.”
The winner of the 2012 Vendée Globe, like his competitors, now has his mind focused on Cape Verdes, and how they are going to manage the wind. They will then go onto the Doldrums, which, according to Franck Cammas, could benefit those who arrive first: “I am under the impression that the conditions look good for entry to the Doldrums, but they could change quickly. There is a very small chance that whoever enters first will do better than those following.”
Yves Le Blevec and Alex Pella (Actual Leader), racing along at over 30 knots on Friday morning, continue to chase: “Sometimes, the conditions allow the boats in front to go quite fast, at other times, like this morning, we were able to catch up a little. In any case, we’re not giving up, the pace is very good aboard Actual Leader, we’re delighted to be where we are with a boat exactly in the same condition as at the start. This race is wonderful, we will make sure that the story continues in this way.”
The race sends these doublehanded speedsters on a course from Brest that will turn at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Cape Town (South Africa) before returning to Brest. The Ultim Class is for trimarans with a maximum length of 32 meters and a maximum width of 23 meters.
The turning marks will see the boats leave to port the chain of Cagarras Islands, in front of the famous Ipanema beach in the Bay of Rio and Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.
It is an unprecedented course, lined with several weather traps, especially along The Cape, a route almost never taken in offshore racing.
Each entry will be skippered by four fantastic pairs and accompanied by a media man who is not allowed to take an active role in the performance of the boat. The teams are:
• Actual leader: Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella
• Maxi Edmond de Rothschild: Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier
• Trimaran Macif: François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet
• Sodebo Ultim 3: Thomas Coville/Jean-Luc Nélias
Source: BREST ULTIM SAILING