Evil welcome for Arkea Ultim Challenge

Published on February 22nd, 2024

(February 22, 2024; Day 47) – 2024 Arkea Ultim Challenge-Brest race leader Charles Caudrelier and the ULTIM Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have been in the Azores port of Horta since yesterday morning waiting for Storm Louis to leave the Bay of Biscay and a weather window to open to allow him to complete the final 1200 miles of the 24,400 nautical miles solo multihull race around the world which started on January 7.

Louis is the name given to a very large active Atlantic depression which is currently sweeping Europe, from the south of Ireland to Lisbon. Louis is more 1000 miles wide and almost 2000 miles from west to east.

The leading edge of the depression has been buffeting Finistère, Morbihan and inland Brittany while Louis’ tail is still smacking the coasts of Greenland. Winds are averaging 35-45 knots at the front of the system – more like 45-55 knots towards its center and the waves are between nine and 13 metres.

“The problem was I already had a big sea of 8-9 meters from the North-West, but it was quite long and quite beautiful,” said Caudrelier. “So we thought about going on – at 8-9 meters it’s not so very serious, especially if there are gaps between the waves.

“The problem was that I couldn’t go fast enough to stay in front of the second depression, I had to go at more than 30 knots and we weren’t sure I could do it in these sea conditions. So that means if I was caught by the other depression, the wind would change direction 180° and could really, really build. This is often what causes the big storms we can have. It creates a very strong wind against the sea, situation with two seas crossing each other, and that is very dangerous for boats.

“So we are moving more towards a consensus, a great wisdom even – even if we are all impatient – to wait for Saturday (Feb. 24), when we have the completely right window. We can afford to wait because we obviously looked at (second placed) Sodebo and the boats behind, and the weather situation means that they will be behind us, not very far, but between Thomas (Coville) and me there still will be an anticyclone so there is no possibility that he can overtake me in terms of boat speed performance.”

The expectation is now that Caudrelier aboard his Maxi Edmond de Rothschild could set off sometime Saturday again to finish in Brest on Monday, February 26, one day before his 50th birthday.

Thomas Coville, who has got out of the Doldrums, is now just 1830 nm from the leader, sailing upwind in weak trade winds, forcing him to sail quite some way west to enable the Maxi Sodebo Ultim 3 to advance at around fifteen knots this afternoon.

Armel Le Cléac’h, who slipped to third during his latest pit stop, is 500 nm further back and leaving the Doldrums behind. They have spread out, but should enable the skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire XI to get away fast. Both of these chasing skippers are obviously looking at the leader, who has stopped. How much ground will they make up during his stopover?

Details: https://arkeaultimchallengebrest.com/en

The Arkea Ultim Challenge-Brest is a solo, non-stop round-the-world race for Ultim Class trimarans which have a maximum length of 32 meters and a maximum width of 23 meters.

The solo speed record around the world was set in 2017 by François Gabart (FRA) on the 30m Macif trimaran in a time of 42d 14h 40m 15s for an average speed of 21.08 knots. This yacht has been rebranded and will be raced by Marchand.

• Charles Caudrelier (FRA), Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (2017 Verdier 32/23)
• Thomas Coville (FRA), Sodebo Ultim 3 (2019 VPLP/others 32/23)
• Tom Laperche (FRA), Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue (2021 VPLP 32/23)
• Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA), Maxi Banque Populaire XI (2021 VPLP 32/23)
• Anthony Marchand (FRA), Actual Ultim 3 (2015 VPLP 30/22)
• Éric Péron (FRA), Trimaran Adagio (2014 VPLP 31/21)*
* Only entrant without foiling appendages

January 29: Tom Laperche on Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue and his team realized they don’t have the facilities or the means to complete the complex, difficult repair needed, and they have no option but to retire and get their boat back to Concarneau. Laperche incurred damage on January 18 when his daggerboard in the main hull collided with an UFO (unidentified floating object). He had arrived in Cape Town on January 22 in hopes to repair the damage.

Five rules from the Sailing Instructions:
• The start is January 7 from Brest, France. The start line is kept open for 168 hours and the finish line is closed after an elapsed time of 100 days after the start time, that is to say April 16, 2024.

• The skippers can communicate and exchange with their teams on shore, so they have the freedom to get weather information and be routed by their team on shore and get technical help and advice to help with technical problems.

• The solo skippers can stop but there are two distinct operations. A technical stop is unassisted and requires the sailor to drop anchor, take a mooring, or tie up alongside an anchored or moored boat with no external help. There is no time penalty for a technical stop. But for a technical stopover (escale technique) where one or more crew or technical team come on board to help, there is a mandatory 24 hours minimum. This does not apply to the start port of Brest where all means are authorized to reach or leave the port within a radius of 50 miles.

• For the first time in ocean racing, zones where there are known to be a high concentration of whales and sea mammals are determined. Establishing these zones should both protect the marine wildlife and reduce the chance of a collision. These zones are around the Azores, the Canaries, south of South Africa, the Kerguelens, and parts of the Antarctic.

• There are ice exclusion zones to protect the skippers and their boats.

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