Monster multihulls prepare for epic race

Published on November 17th, 2023

It will be on January 7 when the first ever solo race non-stop around the world starts for the Ultim 32/23 Class, providing a 40+ day test for these maxi multihulls. Measuring up to 32m in length and 23m in width, the five entrants in the 2024 ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest successfully completed the 2023 Transat Jacques Vabre, a transatlantic course from France to Martinique in which the winning average speed was 21.66 knots.

The first conclusion is that of a measure of reliability. All of the five boats that started crossed the finish line. And as the boats leave Martinique to head to France and tackle the last phase of preparation before the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest, that alone gives some satisfaction to the teams.

But now vigilance is still required and the race against time is ongoing. There was no downtime for the technical teams in Martinique. As soon as the boats arrived in Fort-de-France, the teams were busy repairing and working to put the ULTIMs back in good order before they all left for the crewed delivery back home across the Atlantic.

And this return crossing will be no picnic. There will be hazardous low pressure systems on the second part of the route. All the time, the clock is ticking and a speedy return will give teams their maximum opportunity to fully prepare for the imminent round the world race. A fine balance will be needed on this return trip, as they cannot hang around but they have to take care to avoid major damage on the way back.

The winning duo on Maxi Banque Populaire XI was Armel Le Cléac’h and Sébastien Josse, and as Le Cléac’h who will be at the helm during the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest, he was pleased to put behind him a sometimes turbulent history with multihulls.

“It’s a first in more than one way,” he noted. “It’s the first big victory for this boat, my first Transat Jacques Vabre, and actually my first in a multihull.” With additional marks added to their course, the ULTIMs covered more than 9,200 miles, or the equivalent of a third of the race around the world.

Said Le Cléac’h, “Now all we need to do is complete the two thirds more that will be ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest!”

2023 Transat Jacques Vabre – ULTIM Results:
1. Armel Le Cléac’h and Sébastien Josse (Banque Populaire XI) in 14d 10h 14mn 50sec
2. François Gabart and Tom Laperche (SVR – Lazartigue) in 14d 15h 5mn 55sec
3. Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israel (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) in 16d 9h 5mn 43sec
4. Thomas Coville and Thomas Rouxel (Sodebo Ultim 3) in 16d 15h 22mn 59sec
5. Anthony Marchand and Thierry Chabagny (Actual Ultim 3) in 16d 20h 22mn 43sec

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