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SVR Lazartigue Takes Lead In Arkea Ultim Challenge


  • SVR Lazartigue Takes Lead In Arkea Ultim Challenge


    Four of the six solo sailors competing in the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest have taken their multihull out of the low pressure zone that they have had to face in recent hours. A relief for everyone, now looking for the first breaths of the trade winds.

    Facing depression alone in ULTIM is a bit like being hit with a hammer to the head: the best time is when it stops. For thirteen to fifteen hours, the four giants faced the stormy winds generated by the first large depression to arise on the route to the Ocean. Roughly put to the test last night, Armel Le Cleac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire)

    "That was pretty much it, I had reduced the canvas a lot to tackle this delicate passage. Then there was a big shift in the wind, very clear, with gusts of over 50 knots. At night, in torrential rain, it wasn't very comfortable. Making a tack in these conditions, alone, in ULTIM, is the most complicated exercise. It took a little time, I managed to put everything back in the right place and, a priority, I didn’t break anything.”

    Third in the 4:00 p.m. standings, this Thursday, January 11, the skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire west, more than six hundred miles from the Cape Verde archipelago. “This grand tour is unprecedented,” continues the winner of the last Transat Jacques Vabre in ULTIM. "Generally, we cut in the middle, except that there are no trade winds . This constrained route causes a race of “little horses” , well aligned one behind the other.

    A little frustration for Armel Le Cleac'h temporarily deprived of any tactical opportunity to get back on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and SVR-Lazartigue, who are close to forty miles ahead. For now, the important thing is to breathe after this passage. “Physically,” adds Le Cleac’h, “it was very athletic . We have passed this big, slightly stressful trap, and we are continuing the road towards better conditions. This allows us to reassure ourselves and to consider a simpler future.”

    Feet on the sea

    In turn, the six ULTIMs engaged in this first solo round-the-world trip in a multihull will extricate themselves from the zone of influence of this big depression and continue to head west on their route to escape the high pressure zone which partially blocks their path. Thomas Coville has brought his Sodebo Ultim 3 back into more frequentable waters for a few hours. This will be the case in the evening for Anthony Marchand and Actual Ultim 3.

    A little behind, Eric Peron (ULTIM ADAGIO) was facing depression at the time of writing these lines. On board his ULTIM with an Archimedean temperament, the skipper of ADAGIO has begun to write his world tour story in his own way, without flying, but at a high tempo which he maintains with determination. 350 miles from the leaders, a gap stabilized, the Bigoudin continues its learning phase of its large trimaran. “But we have thoroughly explored the subject,” he adds. Above all, I try not to do stupid things, not to be overconfident, in order to avoid delicate situations. I make sure I don't get caught off guard . " However, moving forward, and the alternations of sailing conditions, regularly offer opportunities to test sail configurations, as not long ago: "Typically, I advanced with mainsail high and J2, at a speed of 28 to 30 knots, but I preferred to reef because I was a little apprehensive, especially if I had to reef quickly. Despite this reduction in mainsail, I reached similar speeds and, for once, without effort. “It’s the kind of thing you learn as you go: you know the process, but the learning happens slowly, by feeling.”

    Seeking the trade winds

    The first ULTIMS on the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest are past the latitude of the Cape Verde islands and Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) is back in the lead. In fifth Anthony Marchand (Ultim Actual 3 at 156 miles behind and sixth placed Eric Peron (ULTIM ADAGIO) at almost 300 miles, see their deficits unchanged.

    The battle continues but it is much less intense than the 48 hours. This morning, Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) was progressing at 14 knots, in second Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue, 2nd) at 12 knots and all making ‘cruising speeds’ less than half of what they were doing yesterday .

    “Last night not much happened,” smiles race director Guillaume Rottee. “Since yesterday, it's been a straight course which should take down them into the trade winds".
    The moderate conditions should allow the skippers to make a full check of their boats over the course of the day and deal with any small damages or maintenance needing done.

    Perhaps that is what Armel Le Cleac’h was doing around 0530hrs this morning. The skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire XI was moving at a reduced speed (5.6 knots) much less than the 25 knots that Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3) was doing. Coville, indeed, has moved up to third “We have not received a call from the Banque Populaire team yet about this slowdown,” confides Rottee, at 0600hrs this morning. Le Cleac'h has subsequently picked up speed and was doing 18kts at 0700hrs still slowed compared to Laperche and Coville.

    Charles Caudrelier and Tom Laperche have gybed. After bypassing the large windless zone to the south of the depression, they are heading south. “The depression has shaken up everything a bit, which explains why the trade winds are now south and west of Cape Verde. They should hit them at the end of the day.” Enough to benefit from stronger winds, around 15 to 20 knots, and to head to the Equator, which they should pass during the night from Saturday to Sunday for the first skippers.” Concludes Rottee



    As the leaders of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest, Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue) and Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), head south in a steadily building trade wind, some 610 miles north of the Equator, we re-run the first days of this solo race around the world on the giant ULTIMs with the expert views of some of the routing teams who work round the clock to help define the course for their skippers. We have Pep Costa (SVR Lazartigue), Erwan Israel (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), Yves Le Blevec (Actual Ultim 3) and David Lanier (ULTIM ADAGIO) who look back on this intense and exciting first week.


    “They were in a ‘Figaro’ type intense atmosphere”
    Erwan Israel (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild): “We were really happy that it was so close, like a race. We had the impression that it was more like the Route du Rhum! What was interesting was that there were lots of plays to be made and we were all pushing each other, it was tight at the the front. On our side we are really happy, we never took any extreme options, we made conservative choices which paid off and we were never in a position to lose ground.”

    Pep Costa (SVR Lazartigue): “The weather has been complicated, tricky not a typical north Atlantic as there has been no trade winds and there was mostly a very big low pressure in the Atlantic located south of the Azores at the latitude between the Canary Islands and the Cape Verdes, so everything has been quite disrupted and so that is why the north Atlantic has been so disrupted. But at the end of the day these boats are super fast and so it is going well. There have been a lot of things to take car about, where he could have lost time, like the high pressure before the low pressure rounding Madeira. We could have lost quite a lot of ground there but we managed to do a nice strategy there and we got through the low very well with the boat at 100 per cent of its capacity. We got as south as possible, Tom is well rested and everything is good. Now tonight we gybe on a light winds zone before catching up with the trade winds which we are entering little by little.”

    Yves Le Blevec (Actual Ultim 3): “For us, everything is going well. It was a bit strange on land: we spent months, years preparing for this round the world and we fell into a bit of an unknown phase when the boats left. Anthony showed remarkable serenity. He didn't need transition time to get into it as was straight away at 100% of his potential. For three days, they all were in a ‘Figaro’ mode before groups were formed. But ‘Antho’ has already found the right rhythm.”

    David Lanier (ULTIM ADAGIO): “Eric doesn’t have the same strategy as the others, nor the same speed. Our objective is to finish, to bring the boat back and to do the best with the boat's potential. Our idea is to always get as close as possible to the direct route. We crossed a first front near Cape Finisterre with a lot of uncertainty about the strength and direction of the wind. At Madeira where the leaders went West, we tried an option to the East and we did not do badly.”

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