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Chuck Takes The Checkered Flag!


  • Chuck Takes The Checkered Flag!

    Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) wins 12th Route de Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe

    In the dark of a Caribbean night to a typically rapturous welcome, French solo skipper Charles Caudrelier on the Ultim 32/32 Maxi Edmond de Rothschild crossed the line off Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe at 05:02:05hrs local time ( 09:02:05 UTC) this morning. He was the first boat to finish the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, the legendary 3,542 nautical mile solo Transatlantic race, which started off Saint-Malo, northern Brittany last Wednesday at 1415hrs
    Caudrelier, a 48-year-old two-time winner of the crewed Volvo Ocean Race – first as crew in the 2011/12 race and then skipper in 2017/18 - set a new record for the course with an elapsed time of 6 days 19 hours 47 minutes and 25 seconds, bettering the 7 days 14 hours 21 minutes benchmark set by veteran Francis Joyon in 2018 by 18 hours 34 minutes and 22 seconds.

    Racing his first ever solo multihull race on a giant Ultim 32/23, the hugely experienced Caudrelier held his cool through a nervous final night on the course, during which he spent long periods slowed to two or three knots as he negotiated calms in the lee of Gaudeloupe’s volcanic Basse Terre island.

    The 2017 launched Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is the flagship of the French banking family’s Gitana team, and is acknowledged as the most evolved and reliable boat in the Ultim 32/23 class. Caudrelier now adds the highly coveted Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe title to a winning record across all the major Ultim 32/23 offshore and ocean races.

    Fran?ois Gabart, the runner up in 2018 who had victory wrested from his grasp by Joyon in the final miles of the race, is on course to finish second and was around 30 miles behind when Caudrelier crossed the finish line.

    After the line an emotional Caudrelier said, “I’m not even tired. The first 24 hours were hard. I so wanted to win the race for the team. I’ve been dreaming of it since I was young. It’s for the family Rothschild. It seemed like a crazy idea, building a boat that could fly. It’s for Franck Cammas, as he had the experience. Without him I wouldn’t be here. He left me the place for the Rhum. He could have won it himself. It’s a Formula 1 team and I just drive in the race. This is a team effort and there’s Guillaume Verdier, the designer. I recently lost my mother and she isn’t here to share this moment. Thanks to everyone for believing in me.”

    Tired but clearly with adrenalin still racing through his veins, Charles Caudrelier delivered his winning thoughts like machine gun fire, responding rapidly, comprehensively and factually to all the questions which came his way from minutes after the finish gun until the end of his Press Conference. Caudrelier paid tribute to his weather routing cell dream team – Erwan Israel and long time friend, mentor and co-skipper Franck Cammas – who both have tens of thousands of miles of experience sailing on Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, American uber-brain Stan Honey who routed Cammas and Caudrelier to a big Transat Jacques Vabre win last year, and Figaro and IMOCA ace Morgan Lagraviere who replaced Cammas as co-skipper and was lined up as replacement skipper. He also acknowledged the hard work of the whole Gitana team – a complete operation of 20- 25 members – especially in optimising the Verdier design and making the boat reliable, again paying tribute to Cammas technical expertise and eye for detail. Here is the best of what was said.
    Erwan Israel, weather router and navigator, “Charles was often very tired. He didn’t follow and understand all of the fine detail of the weather and left himself to be guided, even if he didn’t understand all the choices. In terms of strategy, it was complicated. There were two options but no one wanted to go into 50 knots of wind. So the multihulls opted to go south, but it wasn’t an easy choice. Charles was so fast during our training that we didn’t want to give any opportunity to the others. That’s why we were keen off the
    start line to keep SVR and Sodebo in check. But then, the time came when we needed to tackle the second front and we were pleased with our route to windward of Sao Miguel, which gave us an advantage.

    Franck Cammas on his role and Caudrelier’s win: “It’s only fitting. Experiencing the race ashore or at sea isn’t the same thing. He helped me win the race by routing for me (in 2010). When you’re ashore doing this, I have discovered you don’t get much sleep either and it’s very complicated. But we have more information and can take our time talking it over ashore with Erwan and Stan, which really was a great experience for me. This is a team effort and we lived it as if we were aboard.

    Team Director Cyril Dardashian: “It’s a great moment for everyone. The result of many years of work. Four years ago we thought the boat could win the Route du Rhum, but her bow broke. Charles has shown us now that it was possible. It’s down to everyone involved in this project and down to Charles’s rigour and concentration.

    Caudrelier on winning, “It’s a race that means a lot to me. I was lucky that three years ago when I was told I could take part. Winning the Rhum aboard a multihullis a great moment for a sailor. Pictures of Laurent Bourgnon and this Rhum race always inspired me. More than the Vend?e Globe. It was such a battle with the boat to begin with because of the weather and the size of these boats. Then, the battle with Fran?ois as he sailed so well. I managed to eat well and found the right rhythm, but at the start I had cramps in my arms and that stomach upset or allergy. With these boats, it’s a sprint, rather than a long race. I haven’t had to get the toolkit out. The boat was so well prepared. I’m just the Sunday driver. And I associate this victory with Franck. Without him, we wouldn’t have this win. We share this win.
    Caudrelier on the new record: This boat is completely different from Francis’ boat which is ten years old, so beating his record doesn’t mean much.

    On last night and the slow and sticky moments, “I never get the timing right. I could have finished at 8 in the evening. I regret not finishing during the day. A fantastic start in Saint-Malo and now a fantastic welcome in Guadeloupe. This is the pinnacle of my sailing career. An incredible battle with Fran?ois Gabart who kept the pace up. I hadn’t realised how hard we would push. I’ve never seen anything like it sailing solo.”
    On the weather routers, “I didn’t really do much with the weather. I left that to the routers. I could see Fran?ois was fast, so I just kept on it and it was very tiring. I didn’t think he would push his new boat so hard. At the start my arms were sore with the effort and I had cramps, but I never felt completely exhausted and I just couldn’t get to sleep.”

    “ The boat is so much bigger than an IMOCA or Class 40 and the physical dimension that much more important. But, winning the Solitaire was my biggest achievement. You are alone doing everything. This was a team effort, but being out on the boat alone. Here I’m proud to have got 100% out of the boat.”

    Squeaky bum time?……”There was one moment when I was grabbing some rest in 25 knots of wind, when the autopilot failed. I had to leap out and correct things. That was when I saw that the wind was up to 33. The race could have finished there.”

    Fran?ois Gabart took second place in the Ultim 32/23 class on the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe when he brought his SVR Lazartigue through the Pointe-?-Pitre finish line at 12:18:15hrs UTC this Wednesday afternoon (08:18:15hrs local) He finished in an elapsed time of 6 days, 23 hours, 3 minutes and 15 seconds, 3 hours 15 minutes and 50 seconds after class winner Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild). It is the second time in successive races that the French ocean racing star has finished runner up on the classic solo Transatlantic. In 2018 he was denied victory by Francis Joyon who won the 3542 nautical miles course by seven minutes after 7 days and 14 hours of racing.

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