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Final turn in Brest Atlantiques

Published on November 20th, 2019

(November 20, 2019; Day 16) – Leading the fleet of doublehanded 32m maxi trimarans in the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques since the previous mark off Rio de Janeiro, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier) this evening will reach the second and final race marker of the course, Robben Island, off Cape Town.

But MACIF and Actual Leader are hot on their heels, promising an exciting return back to Brest, while Sodebo Ultim 3 will have to make a pitstop in Cape Town to assess the damage caused by the loss of the rear of its starboard float.

“The four boats are experiencing a rather unprecedented scenario, after more than fifteen days of racing, the fleet is very close,” said François Gabart (MACIF). “It is a nice surprise at this stage in the race.”

After more than 8000 miles covered, at 3pm today there was just 216 miles between the leader, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, and the fourth boat, Sodebo Ultim 3. At the start of the race on November 5, very few would have imagined that the race would be this close as they approach Cape Town.

With just a couple of hours between each boat, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is expected this evening at around 7pm. “As we arrive from the south, we’re going to follow the coast to Table Mountain, we will see fantastic views, I hope we can enjoy it as seeing land is obviously very rare in offshore racing,” said Cammas.

“In addition, we are very fond of Cape Town, Charles and I stopped there on the Volvo Ocean Race. However, we hope we don’t have to stop there, as we are planning to head towards Robben Island before heading north and finding slightly milder latitudes.”

At the 3pm rankings, MACIF was 90 miles behind the leader. They are expected to reach Robben Island 3-4 hours later, followed closely by Actual Leader (Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella) who have managed to catch up due to the other boats having to make pitstops. Ever since the beginning, they have prided themselves in the reliability of their boat, never giving up even when they were more than 500 miles behind the leader.

As for Sodebo Ultim 3’s Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias, they should arrive in Cape Town tomorrow morning where their technical team will then be able to climb on Sodebo Ultim 3. Once alongside, they will reach onto the rear float to assess the damage and the possible repairs to be made.

“We will review the state of the boat in Cape Town,” said Covlile. “Despite the damage, the boat is still in great condition, and we feel confident in its ability to complete the second phase of the race. After the repairs, we must weigh up the pros and cons of how we will go about leaving Cape Town.”

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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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