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50 / 50: Caudrelier's Completion Of Arkea Ultim Challenge Is Timely!


  • 50 / 50: Caudrelier's Completion Of Arkea Ultim Challenge Is Timely!

    French solo racer Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild crossed the finish line off the coast of Brest, this Tuesday morning at 08:37:42hrs hrs local time (UTC+1hrs) to win the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest, the first ever solo multihull race around the world, sailed in giant 32m long ULTIM class trimarans.

    The race leader who has been unchallenged at the front of the race since the night of January 17, Caudrelier– triumphs on the first edition of this unprecedented race. Before he had to slow to avoid a huge storm at Cape Horn, at one point in the Pacific Ocean Caudrelier was ahead of the time needed to set a new all time record for sailing solo round the world.

    His elapsed time is 50 days, 19 hours and 7 minutes and 42 seconds since leaving Brest in the six boat fleet on Sunday 7th January.

    After a thrilling head to head duel with 26 year old Tom Laperche down the South Atlantic, Caudrelier, who turned 50 years old on Monday, widened the gap to over 2500 miles ahead of his nearest rival after Laperche had to retire into Cape Town with damage caused by a collision.

    Along his route, Caudrelier set a new record for the Indian Ocean and then proved he knew how to moderate his pace to look after his high tech flying ULTIM and give himself and the emblematic Gitana team the best chance of completing the 24,260 nautical miles course.

    With a substantial lead Caudrelier put his race on hold – sailing at very slow speeds for more than 36 hours in the eastern Pacific – to avoid a storm at Cape Horn and latterly sat out storm Louis, stopped in the safety of the Azores last week to avoid any additional risk which might have jeopardised his win.

    This success rewards more than ten years of endeavour by the Edmond de Rothschild Gitana team. They worked initially from 2011 with a MOD70 on which they developed the multihull foiling program before they launched the innovative Verdier designed Ultim in 2017.

    Arriving two years later along with co-skipper Franck Cammas, Caudrelier, double winner of The Ocean Race -once as skipper, contributed to the boat’s continued evolution and optimisation and the boat built up the most extensive track record of the class with some great victories with Caudrelier including the Brest Atlantique (2019), Fastnet (2019 and 2021), Transat Jacques Vabre (2021), Finistere Atlantique (2022) and blue riband solo Route du Rhum (2022).

    After a frustrating Transat Jacques Vabre last autumn which was marked by numerous damages including problems with the steering system and a foil, finishing in third place, the Gitana team worked hard to repair to be ready for this race and to move forward.

    “I’ve had my struggles but I know that things are turning round,” said Caudrelier before the start of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest.

    From the early days on this race he had to deal with small problems too including a break in his forward fairing. Although he succeeded in capturing a dream ride on a low pressure from the South Atlantic until the south of Australia, the second half of his race was much more problematic, including his pause before Cape Horn and his strategic halt into the Azores last week.

    A popular, highly respected racer and leader among his peers, this is Caudrelier’s biggest solo success and finally fulfils his youthful dreams of winning a singlehanded race around the world. Added to his Ocean Race wins he further establishes himself as one of the best skippers among the French greats.

    Charles Caudrelier's victory in figures
    Finish time: 08 h 37 min 42 sec
    Race time: 50 days 19 hours 7 min 42 sec
    Miles traveled: 28 938.03 miles
    Actual average speed: 23.74 knots
    Average speed on the great circle: 19.93 knots


    If anyone expected a few choice words from the race winner Charles Caudrelier before a victorious skipper was taken away for the usual round of VIP protocols, it was a real delight that Charles took the time to tell his story in full, sharing with the public and a big media posse on the dock, here are a few selected thoughts.....

    “I was lucky because what happened to Tom (Laperche) could have happened to anyone but I trusted my lucky star and trusted in this boat and so I am really, really happy.”

    “When Tom abandoned the race I was relieved in some senses because the pressure was relieved. As that point when I was racing with Tom I was kind of relieved to be able to do my own race. And you have to remember at the start of the race we did not really know if the boats were capable of finishing the race. I am happy to be able to say that I complete the course and I could have done it without stopping, I am very proud of that.”

    “ At some point I realised that I was not achieving my lifelong goals such as the Vendee Globe and I had a period when I thought I would never be able to do this – win a solo round the world race – and so when I got the opportunity to do it I realised I could make that dream come true. It is a lifelong dream realised.”

    “ I have been lucky to be able to go from one project to another, to win with Dongfeng and then I was really into doing the Vendee Globe but then this came along and it was just perfect. At the time my phone was ringing off the hook with other offers but even so I was surprised to get the call from Gitana team."

    “ The rhythm of this race is so super intense. I am just happy to have got to the finish like I did. I am used to this racing round the world, being away, but I really missed my kids. And I missed good food but in then end I am happy how everything worked out.”

    “ I had some complicated weather but had a great Cape Horn rounding. Not long after that I ripped my mainsail a little and I felt I was making some little mistakes, errors were creeping in, and so I had to really re-focus again. The team proposed a way to repair the mainsail myself rather than have to make a technical stop and so I really wanted to not stop, so I made the repair in a couple of hours hard work and I am still really proud of that.”

    “There was some damages, the furling line broke, the foil system needed work it was a little damaged, I lost a bit of the foiling part of the rudder, some sails were damaged but everything was sorted out and I was always just trying to manage these things with my team who were incredible. When the fairing on the forward beam was damaged four days out I worried initially that the boat might not prove capable of finishing the race, but the team said everything no everything was OK.”

    “ With the team we plan to do the Jules Verne Trophy challenge next winter. The boat is incredible it such a good looking boat, I am so honoured to be able to sail it and I trust in it completely. The boat was so capable of doing the whole race, I trusted the way it was built, I trusted in our team and their work they have done, and after that it was up to me to manage the pace of the boat. This boat has a special place in my life, in my family, in our team and I hope it will go on to have a long life ahead of it.”

    “ I have so many important moments in my life, winning La Solitaire du Figaro, winning the Route du Rhum….I don’t know what is the best achievement but when I won the Solitaire du Figaro it was huge at the time it was incredible at the time, and winning the Volvo like we did at the time in 2018 it was incredible, sharing it with a bunch of people I really loved, that was the hardest race of my life. In fact this race was a little bit smoother, it was a little bit easier, everything was in place to do a good performance, we had the boat and the team, so it is great to deliver.”

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