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Island hopping in the Brest Atlantiques

Published on November 17th, 2019

(November 17, 2019; Day 13) – While leading the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild slowed down marginally last night but has regained speed today to further increasing their margin on the maxi trimarans MACIF, Sodebo Ultim 3, and Actual Leader.

Co-skippered by Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, they are expected tomorrow night at Gough Island, located at the edge of the ice exclusion zone, which they will leave to starboard before attacking a series gybes along the limit zone toward the next mark off Cape Town.

The sea for the Ultim 32/23 Class trimarans has calmed down a little today compared to the past two days, offering an opportunity to reflect on the conditions.

“It has been a few days since the simple act of bending over a keyboard to write these few lines seemed impossible,” explains reporter Martin Keruzoré on Sodebo Ultim 3. “Only the challenge of trying to be on a laptop while the boat was trying to break the high jump record in the middle of the South Atlantic was physically impossible for me.

“After these three days of hellish seas, this morning they (co-skippers Thomas Coville/Jean-Luc Nélias) are hidden under hoodies, their features drawn, exhausted with bloodshot eyes. The South with the rhythm of its swell dictates life on board, let’s say it is not so poetic and it is made up of a series of short grunts, sentences and at times quite foul language!”

Yann Riou, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s on-board media man tells a similar story: “Tonight, we should reach the ice gate. That doesn’t sound very appealing when you say it like that, however, it also means we’ll be done with the damn reaching! Three days we’ve been been beating against a rough sea in strong wind. So yes, it has become a little less arduous than when we left Rio, but it’s still complicated.

“It’s complicated to find the right compromise to go fast without risking damaging the boat. It’s complicated to sleep between jumping across two waves. And it’s complicated to write this message with a keyboard that has trouble staying on my lap. So yes, we may be a little cold, but we’re also happy to get there, down into the infamous roaring forties…”

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, having left Tristan da Cunha Island to port today, is expected to arrive overnight to Gough Island, located in the middle of the South Atlantic, at the northern limit of the ice exclusion zone, into which trimarans must avoid entering.

Slowed down last night in a less windy area, Cammas and Caudrelier have since taken advantage of a less hammering sea to raise the pace with peaks averaging 33.4 knots between the 12 and 4pm position reports.

They been able to build their margin on MACIF (François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet) who at 4pm were 103 miles behind (compared to 51 eight hours earlier), followed by Sodebo Ultim 3 at 223 and Actual Leader (Yves Le Blevec/Alex Pella) at 340.

Arriving at Gough Island, which they will leave to starboard, the leaders will then run under an area of high pressure in a westerly wind which will a series of tacks along the exclusion zone, while Actual Leader should benefit from a gradual move north of the high to make a more direct course towards Cape Town, where the four trimarans are expected November 20-21.

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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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