Moment of truth in Brest Atlantiques

Published on November 27th, 2019

(November 27, 2019; Day 23) – All three Ultim 32/23 Class trimarans racing in the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques are continuing today to head towards the west, with Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, in first position, expected very soon to cross the equator and arrive in the Northern Hemisphere.

Even though Brest is the final destination, the boats are in fact heading towards Brazil, a good 90 degrees from the most direct route to Brittany as they try to advantageously position themselves to cross the Doldrums.

This afternoon, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier) was 3200 miles away from the finish, staying well placed in between MACIF (François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet), located 850 miles to their south, and Brest.

“The night was difficult for us passing through the front, dealing with difficult weather conditions and having to change our sail,” reports Gahinet. “We approached the front with a north/north-westerly wind of 22-23 knots, which enabled us to keep our mainsail pretty high.

“As we crossed, we rotated 140° in 20 minutes, but fortunately in quite light winds, which settled fairly quickly to the south. This allowed us to pick up the pace as we finally get closer to Brest!”

It shouldn’t take MACIF too long to gybe as they head towards the equator. “The objective now is to shift to the west and gybe this afternoon to avoid light winds at the edge of the front,” Gahinet continued.

Actual Leader (Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella), meanwhile, who are now roughly equidistant from Africa and South America, is continuing to sail north-west at speeds of more than 20 knots, following two days at a slower pace. Even though the gap between Actual Leader and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has narrowed during the day (322 miles at 3pm), Maxi Edmond de Rothschild should be able to gain more ground after making a gybe and accelerating northwards.

Le Blévec and Pella will have to finish their ascent up the South Atlantic gradually, as the angle of the wind will slow them down. It remains to be seen whether Actual Leader will be able to remain in second place with MACIF picking up more and more speed. Let’s see what tomorrow has in store…

DNF: Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias retired on November 22 while in Cape Town when it was determined that the damages to Sodebo Ultim 3 were too serious to carry on safely. Details.

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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
• MACIF: François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet
• Sodebo Ultim 3: Thomas Coville/Jean-Luc Nélias

Source: BREST ULTIM SAILING

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