Now three for four in Brest Atlantiques

Published on November 22nd, 2019

(November 22, 2019; Day 18) – Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias, who have been in Cape Town since yesterday, today announced their decision not to continue on the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques, as the damages to Sodebo Ultim 3 are too serious to carry on safely.

At the head of the fleet of 32m trimarans, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is continuing her northerly ascent along the coast of the Namibian desert, 300 miles ahead of MACIF and Actual Leader.

Sodebo Ultim 3 incurred a violent blow with an unidentified floating object, which led the team to make a pitstop in Cape Town to repair the broken tail section of the starboard float.

“Before setting off on the long final stretch back to Brest, we wanted to make sure that the boat was intact,” explained Coville. “But further investigation revealed damages to our starboard side.

“We started strong, given the tough conditions for a new boat, and at the turning mark off Rio de Janeiro, after MACIF and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s pitstops, we took the lead. The whole race was going well, until the violent shock that has now put us out of action. It was a very exciting race, and it’s greatly frustrating to have to give up. But this is only the start of our journey on these boats. Good luck to all those who continue.”

After 17 days at sea, the three remaining Ultim Class trimarans are in full racing mode, with MACIF and Actual Leader within very close range of one another.

“We’ve just seen the magical beaches of Namibia, it’s incredible, we’re in places where no one ever comes,” said Yves Le Blévec on Actual Leader, while MACIF’s François Gabart was equally blown away by the scenes: “It’s quite impressive, seeing a place you don’t know very well, a place of extraordinary beauty, with sand dunes that lead into the mountains. The beach is practically untouched.”

In first position, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild at 3pm today was ahead of MACIF and Actual Leader by 298 and 301 miles respectively. A decent lead, but the weather in the coming days is very unpredictable and so nothing is guaranteed for Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier.

“There is a triangle zone of no wind along the African coast, which points west,” explained Caudrelier. “We will try and head west, but that means covering extra distance, that’s the dilemma. If we go too far, we could rapidly lose our 300 mile advantage on the other trimarans.

“For now, I think everyone will have a pretty similar strategy, that of heading west, because there’s no wind at all in the east. That’s the big question for all of us and I don’t have the answer.”

Event detailsRace brochureTrackerYouTube

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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