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The Leaders Pass Into The Southern Hemisphere


  • The Leaders Pass Into The Southern Hemisphere

    Le Cleac'h explains his sail damage, Laperche leads to Equator

    Passing through the Doldrums at speeds of 22-24kts, ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest leader SVR Lazartigue sailed by Tom Leperche looked set to be first to cross the Equator into the southern hemisphere early this evening. The 26 year old has opened up about 20 miles on second placed Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) today, the Gitana team solo skipper is now 24 miles behind. And on the live program this afternoon fourth placed Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire XI) – now 287 miles behind Laperche -revealed he had J0 headsail problems early on Friday morning which had slowed him. Le Cleac'h is some six miles behind Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3) but was, again, slowed to around six knots on the 1700hrs UTC poll.

    Armel Le Cleac’h today: “I had a problem with my biggest headsail”

    Interviewed as part of the bi-weekly ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest program broadcast this Saturday afternoon, Armel Le Cleac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) revealed today what had slowed him down on Friday morning.

    About his state of mind now?" It's better ! Two or three days ago I was still in contact with the leaders then I had a problem with a sail and it took me quite a while. I had to fix stuff and unfortunately that left me behind. Now, though, I have found conditions that allowed me to sail quickly. Last night I managed to rest well in anticipation of possible maneuvers. Even if it's not easy to get out on he deck because of the speed, I'm going to take the opportunity to go around the boat and see if there's anything wrong."

    The problem? “I have a problem with my largest headsail, the J0. I can't put it up, I have to fix it to use it again. But in saying that it's not a sail we need so I’ve been back up to the boat's normal speeds. I hope I can find the solution to be able to use it normally in due course.
    The Doldrums? “They won't be very complicated this time. We were forced to make a big detour to bypass a light winds area by Cape Verde. As we are very far west, the passage from the Doldrums is not very wide, it should pass quickly. ?
    The peloton, the pack…? “Thomas (Coville) is not very far away, I actually saw him recently. It's good to have someone not very far away, it allows us to measure against each other in terms of speed because we have the same wind conditions. Tom (Laperche) and Charles (Caudrelier) did not make any mistakes so far, so for them, things are going well. We'll try to keep them from getting too far ahead. But this course is long, I know a lot more things will happen. We must maintain our pace, our strategy with conditions which should allow us to quickly descend into the 40s. The idea is to get to the gates of the Indian Ocean with a boat at 100% operational capacity and to be able to attack the big South where we will have to change down the gears.”


    A duel at the front as the fleet stretches, Equator today for the leaders

    As the six competitors on the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest contemplate the end of their first week of racing, the leaders are sailing directly south towards the Brazilian coast and the fleet is now really well stretched out.

    The pace making duo Tom Laperche and Charles Caudrelier are still side-by-side at less than five miles apart with the second duo Armel Le Cleac'h and Thomas Coville now more 280 miles behind and about 40 miles apart. And 570 miles away, Anthony Marchand is fifth and Eric Peron brings up the rear near the Cape Verdes.

    After a week of regatta intensity the gaps have widened since the fleet emerged from for the passage of the depression Wednesday and Thursday and the leaders have dropped down into the traded winds. The fleet now extends over 780 miles from the north of Cape Verde to the north of Brazil. The leaders this morning have just over 200 miles to the Equator and should cross into the Southern Hemisphere later today. At 0700hrs this morning Tom Laperche (SVR-Lazartigue) was leading the race by just 4.5 miles ahead of Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild)!

    “There has been no significant weather phenomenon in terms of conditions in recent hours,” reports Frederic Lepeutrec, assistant race director. “The first four are heading south and are gradually getting into the trade winds, the elastic is stretching. They are contemplating the Doldrums which look relatively straightforward for them, quite simple to cross.”

    After being slowed periodically yesterday Armel Le Cleac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) in third seems to back up to speed. His team did not report any difficulties or technical problems to the race management. And Maxi Banque Populaire XI and has averaged 27 knots in recent hours.

    About forty miles away from Le Cleac'h, Sodebo Ultim 3 continues to make good progress. In a video sent yesterday, Thomas Coville shared “a moment of pleasure”: the wind was filling back coming in and his ULTIM was back to lift off mode.
    “That means that everything really comes back to life it all gets going again,” Covile says with a smile on his face.
    If “the elastic is stretching” between the two pairs at the head of the race, it will stretch even more for Anthony Marchand who is still heading to the West but has to face a windless zone which really slows his progress. This morning the skipper of Actual Ultim 3 was barely making 7 knots of speed. It also looks tricky for Eric Peron (ULTIM ADAGIO).

    “He must bypass the cetacean protection zone around the Cape Verde archipelago before crossing a windless zone which is a bit of a road block for him,” outlines Lepeutrec.


    The entrance door of the Pot-au-Noir!

    Before you can celebrate the change of the hemisphere and the beginning of sailing in the Southern latitudes, the skipper of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and his fellow touring worldists will have to get rid of the famous Pot-au-Noir. An area that, as we know, can reserve many surprises for sailors and beat the cards of a race again. Tom Laperche - Navigateur and Charles Caudrelier are the first to point out the end of their dilemma with only one objective in mind, getting out of it as quickly as possible to start this descent into the South Atlantic!

    At the gates of the South Atlantic

    After a little over six days of racing, the head of the Arkea Ultim Challenge Brest fleet is finishing the North Atlantic and will sail in the Southern Hemisphere in the coming hours. Charles Caudrelier and Tom Laperche continue their escape and still lead the way as they approach the Brazilian north coast. They took advantage of a sluggish Doldrums to quickly move south this Saturday and should cross the equator in the middle of the evening. Behind them, more than 200 miles from their wake, their closest pursuers are beginning to suffer the effects of the Intertropical Convergence Zone as evidenced by the significant drop in average speeds.

    An inactive doldrums

    In offshore races that pass from one hemisphere to another, as is of course the case with a round-the-world trip, sailors must cross the Intertropical Convergence Zone to switch from the North Atlantic to the South Atlantic. This unstable meteorological zone which moves around the equator is, remember, the consequence of the meeting of the trade winds of the northern hemisphere which come from the North-East and the trade winds of the southern hemisphere which come from the South-East. Known for its unpredictability, the one that sailors more commonly call the Doldrums is always feared and even more so alone. But this Saturday, the wind gods were merciful with Charles Caudrelier and Tom Laperche, the first competitors in the Arkea Ultim Challenge – Brest to point the bows of their giants. Positioned further west, SVR-Lazartigue was a little faster and took the opportunity to gain a few miles in the 5 p.m. standings.

    The skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild gave us a first postcard in the middle of the afternoon: “This passage through the Doldrums is going pretty well. Since this morning, we have hardly stopped. We had wind all the time. It was a rather easy passage, much easier than a few weeks ago on the Transat Jacques Vabre! It is an advantage to spend it during the day too because at night if there is strong storm activity, we do not see the squalls coming, getting bigger and on land our routers do not have such precise satellite images. We will cross the equator in the next few hours, so in a little over 6 days. 6 days and a few hours alone, with the unfavorable conditions we had on this descent, it's not so bad! "

    Duel of openers

    Charles has never hidden his admiration for the youngest in the race, Tom Laperche. What the two sailors have in common is training at the demanding Figaro school but also a victory in the main event of the series: La solitaire du Figaro. On the Arkea Ultim Challenge, their descent of the Atlantic has turned into a duel since mid-week and the passage of the front. The skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and his sidekick took the advantage and have since widened the gap with their pursuers to have a lead of more than 200 miles this Saturday.

    “We fight well with Tom! We are very close, it's really nothing on the scale of what still awaits us. This duel is quite nice. It livens up the race, it adds intensity, it stimulates us and pushes us to better adjust our boats and it keeps us busy... We've spoken quite a bit on the VHF in the last few days. "

    Ranking at 5 p.m.
    1) SVR Lazartigue - Tom Laperche
    2) Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - Charles Caudrelier - 23.2 miles from the leader
    3) Maxi Banque Populaire XI - Armel Le Cleac'h - 264 miles from the leader
    4) Sodebo Ultim 3 - Thomas Coville - 278 miles from the current leader
    5) Actual Ultim 3 - Anthony Marchand - 751.3 miles from the current leader
    6) Ultim Adagio - Eric Peron - 1019 miles from the leader
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