Re-start in Rio for Brest Atlantiques
Published on November 15th, 2019
(November 15, 2019; Day 11) – Ten days into racing on the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques and it is like a re-start from Rio for the four doublehanded maxi trimarans of the Ultim Class, with MACIF doing a pit-top, Sodebo Ultim 3 rerouting to avoid bad weather, and all keeping the brakes on to avoid exposing their boats from being pummeled by rough seas.
The fleet is currently led by Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and conditions should become more manageable within two days, a welcome respite from what they have endured since yesterday.
“These are the worst conditions since the start and not far from the worst I have ever encountered on a multihull,” said Yves Le Blevec on Actual leader. “With each wave, it feels like the boat is going to smash; this is not fun. We have about thirty knots of wind, but what’s hard is that we have the waves face-on and the sea is completely crossed and we are being thrown about which means we have to hold on at all times.”
The same is true for Franck Cammas on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild: “We currently have 25-28 knots of wind and a headwind sea, it’s not very comfortable, it moves a lot, we have difficulty standing up.”
The fact remains that the sailor from Aix-en-Provence is pleased that, after the forced stop in Salvador de Bahia in the middle of the week to repair the rudder, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is back leading in the race: “We didn’t expect to take the lead now, it’s also linked to the circumstances of our competitors, but it’s rather nice, it’s a new start for the race.”
A new start due to the technical stopover of the trimaran MACIF in Rio (replacement of the central hull rudder) and the new course option taken by Sodebo Ultim 3 yesterday, which Thomas Coville took the time to explain: “When we arrived in Rio, we had no choice but to set off on this southern route which was trying to pass under the big depression that we are currently bypassing.
“But after a short nap, Jean-Luc (Nélias) noted how we were not going as fast as expected, the depression was catching up with us and we’re going to find ourselves stuck upwind in 45-50 knots, so it was with a heavy heart that we decided to turn around.
“For morale, it wasn’t very good, because we had moved ahead so it meant losing a few hundred miles we had built. I was really disappointed, because if we had managed to get through this depression, we would have found ourselves with a very comfortable lead, being one weather system ahead of the others. It’s hard to accept losing so much ground.”
However, the course to the next mark off Cape Town is still long and the forecasts promise a possible general bunching up of the fleet on the other side of the Atlantic as François Gabart on MACIF explained: “We find ourselves crossing in not easy conditions, against the sea and upwind for almost two thirds of the course to Gough Island, then there should be little wind in the area of the high so we will not go very fast.
“It’s a pity, because I imagined this Rio to Cape Town leg to be full-on flat-out speeds on flat seas, I’ve been dreaming about it for the last few months. Unfortunately, it won’t be like that this time. We will have to come back”.
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