Repairs underway in Brest Atlantiques

Published on November 13th, 2019

(November 13, 2019; Day 9) – Following Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s pitstop today to repair its daggerboard, MACIF has moved into the lead of the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques as the four doublehanded maxi trimarans of the Ultim Class approach the first of two marks in this massive loop of the Atlantic Ocean.

However, MACIF (François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet) tonight will be making a stop themselves in Rio de Janeiro for repairs to their central hull rudder.

As the fleet is to leave to port the chain of Cagarras Islands, in front of the famous Ipanema beach in the Bay of Rio, Sodebo Ultim 3 (Thomas Coville/Jean-Luc Nélias) is expected about five hours later to make the rounding and should be able to take the lead, with Actual Leader (Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella) and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier) following behind.

The MACIF team are preparing for the pitstop at the Gloria Marina, home to the sailing events during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where the trimaran is due to arrive around 6-7pm. At 3pm, the boat crossed Cabo Frio and gybed towards Rio, with 18 knots of favourable breeze.

The pitstop will enable the technical team to replace the central hull rudder which was damaged after colliding with an unidentified object. The replacement rudder will be provided by Banque Populaire.

Sodebo Ultim 3, who at 3pm were 100 miles behind MACIF, will undoubtedly be able to lead the fleet for the first time since leaving Brest. Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias are expected to pass through the Cagarras Islands, located 2.5 miles off the world-famous beach of Ipanema, about five hours after MACIF, around midnight.

According to Christian Dumard, weather consultant for Brest Atlantiques, Sodebo Ultim 3 has a good chance of getting away after passing the Islands: “They’ll encounter steady winds of around 25 knots, which are ideal conditions to go fast, while for the rest of the boats, passing the Cagarras Islands at a later stage, the winds will be stronger, reaching 28-30 knots.”

This won’t necessarily be to the advantage of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Since leaving Salvador de Bahia on yesterday at 21:58, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier haven’t had a particularly smooth ride, as shown by their average speed of only 2.6 knots between the 11am and 3pm rankings.

“A depression is heading south from South Africa, together with a weather front to the north that stretches all the way to Brazil,” reports Dumard. “They are passing through it now, with very little wind along the coast of Brazil. As they left Salvador, they couldn’t head eastwards, and have much less wind than Actual Leader who are further offshore.”

Yves Le Blevec and Alex Pella, who between 11am and 3pm were making progress at 14.2 knots, will probably use this to progress to third place.

And so, it’s all to play for as the passage through the Cagarras Islands approaches, and it is probably not over yet according to Dumard: “On the other side of the South Atlantic, Sodebo is in danger of getting caught up in the St Helena High, which will likely grow in intensity, leaving only a small window of opportunity to pass to its south.”

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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


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