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2022 Route Du Rhum: The Largest Gathering To Date!

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  • Photoboy

    Dominant Richomme at the double. Route du Rhum Class40 winner Yoann Richomme (Paprec-Arkea) triumphs on second successive edition.

    French skipper Yoann Richomme joined the very elite group of solo ocean racers to have twice won their class on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe when he brought the new build Lombard Lift 40 V2 Paprec-Arkea through the finish line of the 12th edition this Wednesday afternoon at 16:23:40hr to win Class40 from a record entry of 55 boats.

    French skipper Yoann Richomme joined the very elite group of solo ocean racers to have twice won their class on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe today, when he brought the new build Lombard Lift 40 V2 Paprec-Arkea through the finish line of the 12th edition this Wednesday afternoon at 16:23:40 UTC to win in the Class40 from a record entry of 55 boats.

    Richomme repeats his 2018 Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe title success in the class with a facsimile programme, launching his latest new boat in the same summer as the race, optimising and making the boat reliable over a compressed period before going on to win comfortably.

    Key differences this year are that the 39-year-old Southampton (UK) trained naval architect was called over the start line early off Saint-Malo on Sunday November 9th and had to take a four-hour mandatory penalty. Although he cleverly took it while the fleet were negotiating a spell of light airs and strong tides at Cape Frehel – he later estimates his net loss was more like two and a half hours – he immediately dropped to 50th with a deficit of 19 miles on the leaders. But with his characteristic drive and smart, immaculate strategies, he pulled through the fleet and took the lead just before the Azores.

    Richomme’s lead was up to 120 miles in the fast trade winds sailing which allowed him the luxury of a relatively serene passage around the west of the island of Basse Terre today.

    With an elapsed time of 14d 03hrs 08mins 40s, Richomme breaks his own course record for the class by two days. His winning time in 2018 was 16 days, 03 hours, 22 minutes and 44 seconds. He also becomes the first skipper to win Class40 in successive years.

    Richomme’s celebrations on the dock were also a repeat of last time, savouring the simultaneous moments of pleasure and relief with his arms aloft and his eyes lifted to the heavens. Among the 40 or so skippers to have finished so far he is unique in taking his time to enjoy every last drop of the p'tit punch, rum cocktail while the media waited. A true perfectionist in ever sense and a master meteo strategist, even his arrival at the dock was - by chance - perfectly timed for the media deadlines at home in France.

    “ I’m really proud.” Richomme enthused, “There are so many ingredients necessary to win this race. I spent my time analysing the weather and we had some violent systems. I was afraid all the time that I would suffer a breakage. Even rounding Guadeloupe, I was afraid of that. It was a real challenge.”

    “ Of course I could have stayed home preparing my IMOCA, but this was a challenge for me and the team. So I’m really pleased. It was hard to manage the race. I had to slow down the boat for the first time. It’s really hard and you have to give it your all. Corentin with his electrical problems and
    Ambrogio at his age… Congratulations. I’m proud of this result.”
    His approach, as is usually the case, is self contained, “I did my thing and at each front, I gained. I never studied what was happening. I was in my race and didn’t study the rest. The start was fantastic under gennaker for two days like in the manuals. It was wild after that with huge waves. Baghdad! I was forced to slow the boat down when she reached 25 knots. For the last two days, I went into my world to do my race.”

    He recalls he was up close behind the IMOCAs at times , “The fourth front, I said I would change my strategy and head south, rather than go with the others. The others made mistakes. That’s when I was enjoying myself. I hadn’t raced like that for a while so I was pleased that it worked out. The IMOCAs? I followed Justine and Isabelle. It was fantastic to be able to follow them.”

    Richomme reflected, “I am nevertheless exhausted. I was at the end of my tether a few times but aboard all went well. I managed my sleep differently from in the past. It was hard to try to get any sleep. We have managed to deal with two projects at the same time. My sponsors followed me. Initially, it wasn’t planned like that, but now I’m ready to tackle the IMOCA project. You can’t compare this with the Vend?e Globe.”

    The Route du Rhum club of double winners includes Laurent Bourgnon (1994 and 1998 line honours Multi); Erwan Le Roux (winner in the Multi50/OCEAN 50 in 2014 and 2022); Roland Jourdain (IMOCA winner 2006 and 2010); Thomas Ruyant (Class40 2010 and IMOCA 2022) and the only three-times winner, Franck-Yves Escoffier (1998, 2002 and 2006 Multi 50).

    Backed by French recycling group Paprec and banking group Credit Mutuel Arkea -who have united to form a sustainable, top-level long-term project – the team management hand-picked the outstanding Richomme to skipper their new IMOCA which is in build for the 2024 Vend?e Globe and which will be launched early next year.

    Richomme is one of the outstanding sailors and technicians of his generation and as such marks himself out as a podium favourite for the next Vend?e Globe. He is a double winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, winning in 2016 and again in 2019, the first year the Beneteau Figaro 3 was introduced to the race - when he left all of the French legends – like Jeremie Beyou, Michel Desjoyeaux, Yann Elies, Armel Le Cleach and Loick Peyron - in his wake.

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  • Photoboy

    Thomas Ruyant won the IMOCA class in the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe when he crossed the finish line off Pointe-?-Pitre at 06:51:25hrs UTC this Monday November 21.

    His elapsed time of 11d 17h 36m 25s beats the course record for the class which was 12 j 04 h 38 min 55 s set in 2012 by Francois Gabart by 11hrs 02min 30secs.
    The 41 year old from Dunkirk adds the highly coveted solo Route du Rhum victory to the two handed Transat Jacques Vabre race triumph he achieved a year ago with Morgan Lagravi?re on a similar course racing from Le Havre to Martinique.

    Ruyant was tipped as solid podium contender when this legendary 3542 miles course left Saint Malo on Wednesday 9th November and many had him as the solo sailor most likely to break the recent winning run of the dominant Charlie Dalin (Apivia).

    Although Dalin led the race from the start, and was 90 miles ahead during the passage of a ridge of light winds after the Azores, Ruyant broke west and outmanoeuvred Dalin on Friday morning and took the lead which held to this finish line this morning.

    Winning from the biggest and most competitive IMOCA fleet ever assembled for a Route du Rhum, 38 boats starting from Saint Malo including seven new builds, Ruyant extends an excellent record racing solo and two handed across the Atlantic which started when he won the 2009 Mini Transat to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. He also won the Transat AG2R in 2018 with Adrien Hardy in the Figaro.

    “I make no secret of it I am only here to win. That is all that interests me. I have one of the best boats in the fleet. There are newer boats on the start line but our 2019 Verdier design is fully optimised to the best level of development,” said Ruyant in Saint Malo. Winning is a fitting farewell to Ruyant's boat which he is replacing with a new IMOCA ahead of the 2024 Vendee Globe.

    He was Dalin’s most dogged rival on the last Vend?e Globe, tussling over the lead until Ruyant broke his port foil early in the Southern Ocean going on to finish sixth. Dalin was a little over eight miles behind this morning when Ruyant crossed the finish line to take the biggest victory of his career.


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  • Photoboy
    In the 12th Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe French solo skipper Erwan Le Roux sailed Koesio across the finish line first in the OCEAN FIFTY fleet this morning at 10:50:52 UTC (06:50:52 local time) narrowly beating second placed Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema) after nail-biting head to head over the final miles around the west of Guadeloupe.

    The duo were only 100 or so metres apart early this morning. The older, more experience Le Roux, 47, who won this class in 2014, stayed offshore at the southern turn around the island, picked up more breeze and finished just 18 minutes and 13 seconds ahead of the 29 year old Vlamynck who led since the early days of the race but was caught by Le Roux last night on the final approach to Guadeloupe.

    Le Roux said this morning, “It was incredible what we did with Quentin. We were neck and neck for a long time in a small group each time we looked at the rankings. Primonial dropped back and I found myself with Quentin. I dreamed of arriving at Tete ? l’Anglais alongside him when we were out training together. “

    Asked about the final miles and his hopes of winning he said, “I never had any doubts. I was fully motivated and I kept calm when I had a problem with my gennaker. I kept saying my time will come. This work started early this year really. At one point in your life you start to see things differently. Even 50 miles back, I never doubted. I sent Quentin an email telling him I had dreamt of this race around the island. Quentin is a great friend. He had a fantastic race and was incredible. I’m pleased to share this with him. This was really two friends racing.”

    As a shimmering rainbow appeared on cue as a beautiful backdrop on this quiet sunny Sunday morning Vlamynck, winner of this season’s crewed Pro Sailing Tour, received a very warm appreciative welcome on the dock at Pointe-?-Pitre’s Memorial ACTe.

    He is a quiet, dedicated young man who has risen through apprenticeships, mentored through the ranks of being a preparateur to Mini Class skipper and then, on the last race, boat captain to Lalou Roucayrol at his Lalou Multi racing stable.

    Nearing the end of the last race Roucayrol capsized at 1000 miles from Gaudeloupe and was rescued by a fellow competitor. He and his then boat captain Vlamynck, chartered a tug from Martinique went and found the upturned Arkema and rescued her exactly four years ago tomorrow.

    “I really enjoyed myself out on the water.” Smiled Vlamynck, “ If it wasn’t Erwan that beat me, I’d have been disappointed. Because it’s Erwan it’s fine, but it does mean I have to come back again in four years. Sailing around the island wasn’t as hard as for Erwan, because I caught him up a bit. There were some nice surprises during that voyage around the island. Pretty sights. He only just won but that’s all it takes. So I eased off when it was clear he was going to win. I knew the boat would perform well. We saw that with a crew this summer. The team have worked hard together for a long time, so that was an advantage. I did wonder whether I’d manage to keep up the pace out on the water, but it helped being in front. That motivated me to do everything to stay in front.”

    _Their races _

    **Le Roux **
    At the start of his fourth Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in Saint-Malo, Erwan Le Roux was of course one of the favourites, but the skipper from La Trinit? was well aware that the standard in the class had progressed a lot in recent years, thanks the increased professionalization, partly down to him as President of the Ocean Fifty class. He only acquired Koesio, the most recent trimaran in the fleet early this year and worked hard to master this VPLP designed boat that seemed to perform well downwind, but not as well as others upwind.

    After a decent start, Le Roux was not outstanding in the Bay of Biscay, managing not to drop too far behind, but between 15 and 35 miles from the leader. By the second front, the gap had widened to 70 miles, but when Thibaut Vauchel-Camus capsized, others seemed to become more cautious and the gap stabilised at around sixty miles. To the north of the Azores, he overtook S?bastien Rogues (Primonial) and Armel Tripon (Les P’tits Doudous) with some good positioning options thanks partly to his router, Jean Yves Bernot with whom he has worked since 2010 and Yann Eli?s, with whom he won the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2013. Le Roux remained convinced of the ability of his boat downwind. “If I am 100 miles behind when we start downwind, I won’t be too worried,” he said before the start. Gradually, Koesio did pulled back the miles to get back up with Arkema by the T?te ? l’Anglais buoy early this morning

    **Vlamynck **
    They set off as if this was a Grand Prix event. By the tip of Brittany, Arkema was in front of the seven Ocean Fifty multihulls. Quentin Vlamynck took a westerly option near the Island of Sein, while the others continued southwards. The winner of the 2022 Pro Sailing Tour showed how at ease he was upwind aboard his Romaric Neyhousser-designed boat. The surprise for many was that nine days later, the youngest skipper (29) was still in front as they approached the T?te ? l’anglais buoy.

    This was his first transatlantic race on a multihull, but Vlamynck found the perfect balance between performance and safety. Approaching the second front off Portugal after three days of racing, he refused to keep up the pace set by Thibault Vauchel-Camus who grabbed first place for twelve hours or so before capsizing. He managed to keep a small group including Erwan Le Roux (Koesio), S?bastien Rogues (Primonial) and Armel Tripon (Les P’tits Doudous) in check. In the variable winds and squalls approaching the French West Indies, Erwan Le Roux’s experience enabled him to get back to within twenty miles of Quentin Vlamynck.

    **Stats **
    Le Roux’s elapsed time is 10 days, 21 hours, 35 minutes and 52 seconds. He covered the 3,542 miles of the course between Saint-Malo and Pointe-?-Pitre at a speed of 13.54 knots on the great circle (direct route). He actually covered 4,197.23 miles at an average speed of 16.4 knots (on the water).

    Vlamynck’s elapsed time is is 10 days, 21 hours, 54 minutes and 05 seconds. He covered the 3,542 miles of the course between Saint-Malo and Pointe-?-Pitre at a speed of 13.52 knots on the great circle (direct route). He actually covered 4,186.67 miles at an average speed of 15.99 knots (on the water). He arrived in Pointe-?-Pitre 18 minutes and 13 minutes after the winner Erwan Le Roux (Koesio).

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  • Photoboy
    In IMOCA, the thrilling duel between Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) and Charlie Dalin (Apivia) continues. Behind the two frontrunners, there is a group of five sailors racing against each other, while further back, the objectives are very different.


    Maxime Sorel (V and B-Monbana-Mayenne): Unfortunately, I have had a problem with my autopilot. The boat broached three times and I stopped to figure it out. A sensor giving the mast angle failed. Justine (Mettraux) was fifteen miles behind me and now is alongside me. Everything I gained yesterday has to be done all over again. The trade winds are sometimes quite strong. It’s not easy on our boats when they are fast. I haven’t managed to catch up on my sleep in the trade winds. At the finish, we’ll all be exhausted. We have been having gybing battles, a bit like a day of racing around the bay.”

    Benjamin Dutreux (Guyot Environnement-Water Family): “I’m trying to catch the group of seven in front. There are some huge squalls and the wind is extremely variable, so it’s not easy sailing in these conditions. In terms of strategy, I’m not sure whether to try to keep my place and keep those behind me in check or whether to grab any opportunity to go on the attack. In any case, I’ll be sailing as I think best and enjoying myself. We’ll see the result at the end of all that. This is the first time I have really sailed the boat downwind and speeds are not far off those at the front. I think Charlie knew he wasn’t as at ease sailing downwind and so he tried to extend his lead. We can see that Thomas managed to catch him downwind. It’s a fantastic contest and keeping us in suspense to the finish.”

    Nicolas Troussel (Corum L’Epargne): “Yesterday I crossed paths with Romain (Attanasio), and we had a chat over the VHF. We have been close together since the start and bump into each other every couple of days. In theory, the next time will be at the finish. My preparation was not long enough for me and I’m still trying to find the right settings. My goal is to finish in the first ten, but that’s not that simple. The battle against Romain continues.”



    It’s a brand new boat, a new design with a revolutionary new rudder configuration taking part in its first transoceanic race and it has been consistently in the podium places.

    This Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe has seen an impressive performance by J?r?mie Beyou on his Sam Manuard-designed Charal 2, with its inverted V-shape rudder configuration and the Manuard signature scow bow.

    In the history of the Class very few boats have been designed after a Vend?e Globe, then been built and launched and then gone on to complete the Route du Rhum. So Beyou is on his way to a considerable achievement and so far everything has been going like clockwork.

    The 46-year-old Breton skipper from Finist?re had to retire from the last Route du Rhum on the VPLP-designed Charal 1 because of technical issues. He then saw his dreams of winning the Vend?e Globe dashed, after he had to return to the start for repairs, and he eventually finished 13th. As a result, this is a massively important race for Beyou.

    Currently in third place, and 75 nautical miles behind new leader Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut and 53 miles behind Charlie Dalin on Apivia, Beyou is fighting hard to stay in touch in the trade winds and give himself a chance of moving up the podium places in the final stages.

    In a report from on board today he described tricky unstable downwind conditions with squalls that can lead to huge losses. “It can happen and it can happen again, so we are not safe from anything,”he said. “You have to keep pushing and believe in yourself.”

    Beyou is trying to ensure that he gets to Pointe-?-Pitre in one piece. “Right now, the wind is getting stronger and I’m paying attention to the boat because the idea is to finish the race,” he explained. “With a new boat, being here is already not bad. We shouldn’t ruin everything by doing something stupid, by pushing too much on the boat or by adjusting the mast badly…I’ve been on the podium since the beginning of the race, so I’d be upset if I wasn’t there at the end.”

    In fact Beyou’s team say their skipper finds it almost impossible not to push himself and his boat to the limits, so competitive a sailor is the three-time Figaro winner. “J?r?mie doesn’t know the word ‘conservative,’”said the Charal technical director Pierre-Fran?ois Dargnies. “That’s why we had to prepare a very strong boat for him because we know he can’t manage a boat conservatively – he always wants to win a race. Even when I say ‘this is the first race, we have to finish and we need experience on board,’ he says ‘yes, but I will push’ because every race is important to him.”

    Dargnies says the team has been pleased with the new boat’s upwind performance in the tough early stages of this race. “We know that upwind it is impossible to match Apivia. We know that it was impossible. The objective is to be faster than the other new boats and we saw that. We know that we can do better…but today we are really happy with the performance upwind,” he said.

    Downwind it is more of a work in progress with the boat improving all the time as Beyou tries out different configurations and set-ups as Charal 2 flies towards Guadeloupe. However, the unique rudder design – in an inverted ‘V’ configuration – is on its way to passing another one of its first big tests and the team is convinced that it is more efficient than the more conventional arrangement on Charal 1.

    “The rudder design is very new and we play with the system carefully because we don’t want to break it,” said Dargnies. “We are happy because the system is OK – it is operating at 100% without problems – and we are absolutely convinced that the boat trim is more stable than on Charal 1, but it is not perfect. We have to work on it, but we are happy because the system works and we know that on the return transat, with a full crew, we will play with it and try a lot of things and I am sure we can progress a lot with this rudder configuration.”

    During the build-up to this race the Charal team has been augmented with the arrival of Franck Cammas who has been driving performance improvements with characteristic zeal. Dargnies says Cammas – who has talked recently of his dream of competing in the Vend?e Globe himself – is the perfect addition to a team that needs to move one or two more steps up the podium.

    “In the last four years we have had a good project, with a lot of second and third places – with first place too in some small races and in the Vend?e Arctique – but we have been missing something to win and I think Franck can show us how to do that,” he said. “He pushes the team a lot and he will sail on the transat, coming back from Point-?-Pitre to Lorient, when I am sure he will find a lot of improvements.”

    The other boat in the same category as Charal – a post-Vend?e Globe new design and build – is Boris Herrmann’s VPLP-designed Malizia SeaExplorer. The German skipper is now down in 25th position, nearly 750 miles off the lead, and is no longer in race mode. Herrmann has discovered a structural problem with the starboard foil casing and is content to nurse his boat to the finish, saying he is glad he has discovered this issue now and not later – for example during the up-coming Ocean Race.

    As the leaders in the IMOCA fleet reach the final stages of another epic race, the gap between the top-seven – Ruyant, Dalin, Beyou, Kevin Escoffier (Holcim-PRB), Paul Meilhat (Biotherm), Maxime Sorel (V And B-Monbana-Mayenne) and Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) is of the order of 200 miles.

    Then, behind Benjmain Dutreux, there have been some big changes with S?bastien Marsset putting together a remarkable performance on the non-foiling 2006 Farr design, Mon Courtier Energie-Cap Agir Ensemble. Over the past couple of days Marsset, with Britain’s Pip Hare in tow on Medallia on the northern flank of the fleet, has moved up to an impressive 10th place and is now the leading daggerboard boat in the field. Hare, in 11th position, is hot on his heels despite sailing with a badly torn mainsail.

    Ed Gorman

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  • Photoboy
    Update from Class 40 and OCEAN FIFTY today

    With the Class40 leaders past the halfway point, the skippers are now sailing in better conditions and it is time to take out the gennakers and spinnakers. Most of those who carried out pit stops in Ponta Delgada are now back in the race. That is the case for Axel Trehin, (Project Rescue Ocean), who was able to fit the mast offered to him by Matthieu Perraut (Inter Invest), who was forced to retire. South African Donald Alexander is into the Azores for a, hopefully, brief pitstop to source new batteries.

    Simon Koster (Banque du Leman): “Have we found the way out to the trade winds? In any case, for the first time in this crossing, I have the spinnaker up. But are these the trade winds? Not entirely, but we’re getting there. The seas are still quite rough here around the Azores, so it’s not easy to deal with. Neither for the autopilot, the boat or the sailor.”
    Antoine Carpentier (Redman): “The wind has finally gone around. We’re no longer upwind, but we are slamming in the residual swell. The seas should ease in the coming hours and then we can step up the speed. The leaders have been slow since passing the front, while the chasing boats are eager to catch them.”


    With 1200 miles to go to the finish in Guadeloupe, the Ocean Fifty fleet is back again in winds that are variable in strength and direction with squalls, calm patches and winds suddenly going from eight to 28 knots.

    Eric Peron (Komilfo): “We are in the trade winds with thundery squalls around us. The slightest cloud changes the wind. So we have to manoeuvre quite a lot. The wind is varying by 40?. We couldn’t see much during the night, as the moon has only just come up. The weather unit is helping us using satellite imagery. There will be another twenty hours like this. Our option didn’t pay off and the others are a long way ahead, but there is still the chance of a battle against Armel Tripon. Anything is possible, so we need to keep focused.”

    Armel Tripon (Les P’tits Doudous): “I’ve been stuck in a patch of light airs for an hour under a big cloud. It’s like the Doldrums here and I’m trying to find the way out. When there is wind, it keeps swinging around. I’m heading to the SE at 1.5 knots, which isn’t exactly pleasing. Once the sun comes up, I’ll be able to see a bit more what is happening.”


    The Ultim 32/23 podium was completed yesterday when Thomas Coville brought Sodebo Ultim 3 in to Pointe-?-Pitre in third, his fifth podium from five Route du Rhums. Next to come in should be Yves Le Blevec on ACTUAL Ultim 3 who had just over 550 miles to the finish this morning with Francis Joyon on IDEC Sport a further 100 miles or so behind. The final miles, just under 1400 for the OCEAN FIFTY and over 1500 for the IMOCA do look complicated, particularly through the next 24 hours as the winds continue to be very unsettled with big shifts in direction and wind direction. The net effect seems to be some continued compression, the so called accordion effect as the leaders are seeing some of their margins eroded as they drop south into the more unsettled winds. Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema), Charlie Dalin (Apivia) and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea) also lost a few miles on the pack. And so after just over a week of racing the game is still wide open. Always, always remember this Route du Rhum-Destination course often brings a 55 mile sting in the tail with the passage southwards around Basse Terre if it at night.

    “We are struggling a bit at the moment. There are big clouds and quite a few squalls which sometimes push the wind up to 30 knots, but also light areas. The situation is not stable. Regularly, you have to manage big shifts of over 30 or even 40?, not always in the right direction. It is not easy. I have the impression that the others are going faster and more direct than me, ”commented Quentin Vlamynck leader of the OCEAN FIFTY class “I look at all the competitors. I try not to stray too far from their line. You have to be careful not to get trapped in your corner.”

    And in the IMOCA fleet constant leader Charlie Dalin has seen his margin eroded from 74 miles to 21 miles on his runner-up, Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut).
    “The wind is really not easy to read. On the water, there are big differences in angles and speed. At certain times, it puffs up to 20 knots and at others it drops to next to nothing It's not only related to the different squalls, it's also to the wind itself. It feels like we're doing everything upside down,” said J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) “You have to constantly listen to the boat and do the best you can with the wind. We are getting south as much by feel and intuition.”

    The Azores high, which they are crossing is, unusually, much more ridged than round and so forming a big, wide hurdle. “We don’t have the traditional “gull wing” effect. It's not settled. They are small patches of wind and it is not simple. It's not over no til it’s over. There are still a lot of gybes to do and the course is still long!” said Beyou whose patience, like that of his rivals, is being sorely tested.

    Class40 into the high

    Further back in Class40, the situation is rather different. Over the past few hours, most of the pack had to deal with yet another front, which although weaker than the previous ones, took some time to cross. “It was a long time coming and it took us a long time to get to the other side. We sailed upwind as best we could. As a consequence we ran through all the sails in less than an hour,” explained Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkea), who is now pleased to be under spinnaker today for the first time in eight days of racing. “It’s nice to get some speed up. It takes time to get used to that. We had to deal with some squalls, reposition ourselves and pay close attention to be able to react when the wind suddenly got up again,” added the fleet leader, who like the Ocean Fifty and IMOCA competitors, is having to deal with variations in wind strength. “That often happens once you are sailing downwind.

    The gaps widen and narrow even more quickly,” said the title-holder, who lost around ten miles to Corentin Douguet (Qu?guiner – Innoveo), his nearest rival since they left the front behind them. “Our task in the next 24 hours is to gybe below the high-pressure system. The famous ‘gull wing’ move to allow us to get back on a course towards the SW with some transition zones to manage on the way out, which are not favourable for the leaders,” regretted Yoann Richomme. This may lead the chasing boats to close the gap adding to the suspense.

    And in the Azores, fraternity and solidarity

    There are fewer places, where the terms fraternity and solidarity mean more than at sea. In Ponta Delgada in the Azores, the skipper of the Class40 Inter Invest, Matthieu Perraut, has just shown us that. Forced to retire after hitting a UFO, the Breton sailor agreed to give his mast to Axel Trehin, skipper of the Class40 Project Rescue Ocean. The latter, who suffered damage to his spreader last night had been unable to repair his rig within a time frame allowing him to get back in the race. Three years ago, both sailors were competing in the Mini-Transat and eleven months ago, they trained together, at the Orlabay Centre in La Trinit?-sur-Mer. A week ago, they were competitors in the legendary transatlantic race, but now their aim is to allow Axel to finish his race.

    Key points
    -The Ultim 32/23 podium of this 12th edition of La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is now known. It is made up, in order, of Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), Fran?ois Gabart (SVR Lazartigue) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3).

    Forced to retire following a violent collision with an UFO, Matthieu Perraut reached Ponta Delgada, in the Azores. On site, the skipper of Inter Invest and his team showed great solidarity by choosing to lend their mast to Axel Trehin (Project Rescue Ocean) so that the latter, faced with the breaking of a bar of arrow, can resume the race.
    -Emmanuel Le Roch (Edenred), who had made a technical stopover in the Azores, resumed his race shortly after 7 p.m. last night. K?ni Piperol (Captain Alternance) who had done the same following a leak in La Coru?a, should do the same this Thursday, November 17 at the end of the afternoon.

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  • Photoboy

    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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    Dominant Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe leader Caudrelier remains under threat from underdog Gabart

    If there is one thing that the 2018 edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe taught us, it is that this solo 3,542 nautical mile Transatlantic race is never over until it is over. In the last edition, long-time race leader Fran?ois Gabart, - French sailing’s golden boy who had previously won the Vend?e Globe, the IMOCA Class in the Route du Rhum and who held the solo round the world record - looked set to add the Route du Rhum line honours to his long list of achievements.
    But during the hours of darkness when the wind, inevitably, drops to a handful of knots and sometimes nothing, the audacious 61-year-old Francis Joyon came back from a deficit of 150 miles and ghosted past Gabart to steal the title from under his nose.

    Ultims Day 7

    This year, Gabart is the underdog. He and his SVR Lazartigue team have spent months fighting a ruling that put his boat out of class, in essence because his sails are trimmed from inside his hub. And so, this is his first full on ocean race with his new VPLP designed Ultim 32/23.

    In contrast, the highly optimised Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper Charles Caudrelier, has dominated every Ultim ocean racing event since 2019.

    Currently, the top-three Ultim 32/23 multihulls are flying at an average speed of thirty knots towards Guadeloupe, and it’s leader Caudrelier who looks well placed to win. But he remains under threat from Gabart and Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3) who have remained hot on his heels since leaving Saint-Malo. This afternoon, with less than 400 miles to the finish line,
    Caudrelier has just 64 miles in hand over Gabart.

    Caudrelier is under threat
    The skipper of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has dominated the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe from the start, gaining mile after mile over his rivals, but he has never shaken them off completely. With a lead varying from sixty to eighty miles depending on who is gybing, Caudrelier is still leading the way to the T?te ? l’Anglais buoy, which he may reach early tonight (between 2230hrs and 0100hrs) local time. But the battle is not yet over. They will be rounding the island of Guadeloupe by night, making it hard to keep his rivals in check, particularly as they know that anything is still possible.

    Once they reach the T?te ? l’Anglais buoy - the penultimate mark before the final buoy in Basse Terre close to the finish - the Atlantic battle will be over, but the final verdict still awaits them. Any mistake or technical problem will cost the skipper dear in this final stretch.

    What worries Caudrelier the most is, “I’m afraid Fran?ois Gabart will do a Joyon on me, as he is out to get his revenge after what happened last time.”

    Gabart is super motivated, knowing that in 2018 he had an advantage of almost 150 miles as he approached the T?te ? l'Anglais buoy, but that lead was to melt away in the heat of the night in Guadeloupe.

    Coville confirmed this. “On our boats, if you are lacking the slightest thing, a rudder flap, a foil regulator, it all stops. The only way to sail, is to stay on it until the line.”

    1,700 miles behind the leader, Armel Le Cl?ac’h added, “It looks like Charles is in full control of his boat, which wasn’t the case four years ago for Fran?ois, but it is not impossible to lose 100 miles in three hours. It’s not over until the line is crossed.”

    ETA T?te ? l’Anglais buoy, Ultim32/23 class
    Plus or minus 2 hours for each timing
    Maxi Edmond de Rothschild: Wednesday, November 15, 10:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. Paris time)
    SVR Lazartigue: Thursday, November 16, 2:30 a.m. local (7:30 a.m. Paris time)
    Sodebo Ultim 3: Thursday, November 16, 6:00 a.m. local (11:00 a.m. CET)

    IMOCA Day 7

    Six days after leaving Saint-Malo, the IMOCA class leaders have now passed the halfway mark. They are likely to be much faster in the second half of the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, where they should be able to take advantage of the trade winds and downwind sailing at speed. Behind the leader Charlie Dalin (Apivia), the chasing pack remains close together. In spite of the testing conditions most of the new IMOCA boats are proving impressive, not just in terms of performance but they appear closely matched, and none of the new boats have been forced out by the weather.

    Germany’s Boris Herrmann on Malizia Seaexplorer, fifth on the last Vend?e Globe, is on good form although half wishing he was up with the other new boats as he currently sits in 14th place. But he is remaining super conservative, not least as he needs to finish to make the earliest possible qualification for the 2024 Vend?e Globe and get his boat to Alicante to refit for January’s start of The Ocean Race.

    Herrmann said: “The boat is going well. I have one little electronics issue and I cannot read my load data but that does not keep me from sailing hard. I will work on that in the afternoon. I am achieving my goal of sailing a safe race. I am not as happy with my position as I was 24 hours ago when I was pacing Corum and last night he had a better angle and I felt I was losing to him. That didn’t feel great. And I would like to have been able to stick with him and close in and have a sparring partner and so now I feel a little bit alone. Thirty six hours should be enough to get through this high pressure zone and into the trade winds. Until then it will be sketchy and light, with instability already in the clouds. It is a bit like the doldrums, not a very fast situation for the next few days.”

    Herrmann should gain places and ground when he has his powerful new boat get into the trade winds conditions in about 36 hours’ time.

    And 24-year-old British rookie James Harayda (Gentoo) is feeling the accumulated muscle fatigue and tiredness. He was diverted yesterday to potentially help in the rescue of Fabrice Amedeo who had an explosion and a fire on his boat which sank.

    Harayda reported today, “I sailed down an hour to his last known position. He did not have AIS so I was just going to a position updated every hour. As I got near to him, I got lines out and it sounded pretty bad and I was half expecting to come into a raft to circle round and grab him, worst case. I got closer to him and was in a WhatsApp group with his Team Manager and the DC and then they told me the situation was under control and to continue racing. I double checked and all was Ok. Then I got a message yesterday saying what happened to Fabrice and I was very thankful he is OK. I maybe lost two hours and have asked for redress. The most important thing is
    Fabrice made it off his boat in time.”

    Speaking about his race so far, Harayda continued: “It has been very challenging, fun, but challenging. Even getting sails up today when winds are light I am finding it tough. I think the last four or five days take more of a toll than you think. You might not be changing sails all the time but just holding on and moving about when the boat is bouncing around it takes it toll, so my winter project is going to the gym a bit more.”

    He is 27th and in a good race with Hungarian rookie Szabi Weeores and China’s Jigkun Xu.

    Ocean 50 Day 7

    Class 40 Day 7

    Rhum Multi Day 7

    Rhum Mono Day 7

    Key points Tuesday
    116 boats are still racing in the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe
    • As he was making his way to Spain with sail and engine problems, Erwan Thiboumery (Interaction) found himself pushed towards the coast in strong winds and difficult seas. The skipper was forced to abandon his boat and was taken off by helicopter. Erwan is now ashore and in good health, but his boat washed up on a beach in Ferreira.
    • Jean-Pierre Dick (Notre Mediterranean - Ville de Nice) is due to arrive in Ponta Delgada in the middle of the night. He will drop off Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA - ?le de France - 60000 REbonds), the skipper he rescued on Sunday.
    • Daniel Ecalard ( Sos Pare Brise +) has arrived in Vigo, where he will try to repair his autopilots. He hopes to set sail again as quickly as possible.
    • Two Class40 boats are planning pit stops in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores: Emmanuel Le Roch (EDENRED) and Andrea Fornaro (Influence)
    Dealing with several technical problems aboard his Class40 Rennes, Saint-Malo / Parenthesis de Vies, Baptiste Hulin will carry out a quick pit stop tomorrow morning on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. His shore team are preparing to meet him there.
    • In all, after Croatian sailor and Olympic ski champion, Ivica Kostelic (ACI) announced he was retiring from the race this morning, 22 solo skippers have so far retired: 14 in Class40, 4 in IMOCA, 3 in the Rhum Multi category, 2 in Ocean Fifty. 116 sailors remain in the race.

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    Fire aboard IMOCA Nexans - Art & Fenetres: Fabrice Amedeo recovered by a cargo ship

    At 1132hrs UTC this morning, while French skipper Fabrice Amedeo was en route to Cascais in Portugal after suffering damage during the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo Transatlantic race there was an explosion aboard his IMOCA, Nexans - Art & Fenetres.
    This led to a fire on board which spread requiring Amedeo to abandon his boat which sank soon after.
    A rescue operation was immediately set up. After being informed by Race Direction the Portuguese maritime rescue centre contacted ships in the area of the accident. The Cargo vessel M/V MAERSK BRIDA was close by and diverted immediately. The rescue operation went well and at 1421hrs UTC this afternoon Amedeo, 44, was taken safely on board the cargo vessel. He has not suffered any injuries. He will be taken ashore in Ponta Delgada, on the southern side of the island of S?o Miguel in the Azores.


    When he was heading to Cascais in Portugal on his IMOCA Nexans – Art & Fenetres after a leak had forced him to leave the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe race course over the weekend at 11.40 a.m. TU solo skipper Fabrice Amedeo had an explosion on board which was immediately followed by a fire.

    Amedeo was forced to abandon his boat which sank. Rescue operations were immediately initiated. Alerted by the race management of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, the Portuguese maritime rescue services contacted the vessels present in the area of the accident. The nearby freighter M/V MAERSK BRIDA diverted and the rescue operation went well at 14:32 UT this afternoon. Amedeo is now safe on board the freighter, he is not injured. He will be disembarked tomorrow in the port city of Ponta Delgada on the south coast of the island of S?o Miguel, in the Azores archipelago.

    Amedeo, a 42 year old former journalist turned ocean racer reported afterwards
    "Hello everyone. I am safe and sound on a freighter which will drop me off in the Azores tomorrow morning. My IMOCA Nexans - Art et
    Fen?tres sank in flames before my very eyes. All my dreams were went down with my boat.

    In his own word, ‘the story of the last few hours.’

    Sunday morning: everything is fine on board and I'm having a great race. The boat is flying hard in the squalls and the sea is heavy. Suddenly, I realize that my ballast has exploded on a wave and that I have several hundred liters of water in the boat. I stop to be safe and start to empty everything. At that moment, the batteries are immediately affected by the water and failed and I had a complete blackout on board. I have no more electricity: no more autopilot, no more computer, no more electronics. I decide, in consultation with my team, to proceed cautiously towards Cascais.

    Sunday afternoon: big smoke on board the boat. I use the extinguisher, I put on my TPS (survival suit) I alert the race direction who asks a competitor in IMOCA to divert to assist me if necessary. The smoke eventually stops. I decide to resume my passage to Cascais. I meet James Harayda, the skipper of Gentoo who had come to the area to help me. I thank him and resume my passage. I completely dry the boat and prepare myself for a difficult passage I slept two hours last night to recover from my emotions then steer 6 hours tonight.

    Again 2h30 of siesta then 7 hours on the helm. Shortly after 12:30 p.m today more new smoke on board. Followed by an explosion. I grope my way back into the cabin and manage to retrieve my TPS. My Grab bag (survival bag) had remained in the cockpit. I'm going back to get my wedding ring. I hit the fire extinguisher but nothing happens. The smoke is not white like yesterday but yellow. The cockpit warps and yellows. Seawater spray sounds like the sound of water hitting a saucepan. I understand that I will have to evacuate. I warn my team of a possible evacuation. When I hang up, I am then at the back of the boat ready to trigger my survival: a torrent of flame comes out of the cabin and the coachroof. I am caught in the middle of the flames. I can't even open my eyes. I manage to push the life raft into the water and jump.

    Normally the end that holds the life raft to the boat is supposed to let go. It doesn't let go. The boat, which I had time to steer but which is still going forwards pushed by rough seas, pulls it and it fills with water. I manage to get on board without letting go. I think that's where it all happened and things turned the corner to work out right. I say to myself “if you want to live you have a few seconds to find the knife and cut”. The IMOCA pulls me back towards it. The waves bring me dangerously close to it. I finally find the knife and cut. My raft is drifting downwind the boat which is fully on fire. It takes 30 minutes to sink. I spoke to the boat and thanked it. We were going to go round the world together in two years time.

    Then you have to get organized. The satellite phone did not like the water in the raft and doesn’t work.

    I say to myself: “nobody knows that the boat has sunk and that you are in your raft, if you activate the beacon on the IMOCA that you were able to take with you and you trigger the one on the life raft they will have the information”. That's what I do. I can't find a baler on board. A Tupperware box containing batteries will save me. I empty the raft. I begin the wait. I stand behind the raft so that it does not overturn. The sea is very very big I take stock of the equipment on board and prepare for what's next. I gather the flares. I put the VHF around my neck. I spend three to four hours in this raft. I am surprisingly calm. The raft regularly fills with water from the lightly breaking waves. I understand all this but feel safe. I know, however, that nothing is over.

    Every 30 minutes, to preserve the batteries, I make a Mayday call on the VHF. I took the VHF on board thanks to ?ric my Team manager who had time to give me this advice just before I hung up. I keep the batteries of the raft for later.

    A few minutes later a voice answers me. A cargo ship which is 6 miles from my position arrives in the area. I'm reassured but don't see how I'm going to board such a giant with this sea. I'm in constant contact on the VHF with the captain who can't see me: the sea is big and the sun is on the water and I'm a tiny orange dot. He told me earlier “you are alive because you told me: I am approximately 2 miles from your starboard side”.

    I'm about two miles off your starboard side. I launch a distress flare. He sees me. He loses me. I hit a second one. He sees me and arrives in the area. He tries a first approach which fails. It is very impressive to be in my inflatable raft a few meters from this steel giant. He apologizes on the VHF and leaves for an approach. As it passes, the wake builds, the raft fills with loads of water. He repositions himself upwind of me, a few meters away, it's crazy, and drifts towards me. This building calms the sea a little and sucks me in. The raft rubs against the hull from front to back. If that doesn't work it will very quickly become complicated. The crew threw ropes at me that I couldn't recover at all at first.

    Eventually I get one I retrieve one near the bow of the ship. Everything is played out down to the wire. There is the thickness of that line between success and failure, survival and drama. The crew pulls me to a gangway that has been dropped. With the waves I sometimes go up to the level of the top of the steps then go down 5 meters below. This is one last test. If the life raft goes under the stairs it will be pierced and I will be thrown into the water. I approach. A first time: I don't feel its right. A second wave, I go up and hop I jump on the stairs which I reach then find myself in the arms of a man wearing a helmet. I climb on deck.

    I am welcomed by about twenty crew members. It's crazy right now. They take me in their arms, congratulate me. Before I had time to say phew, they take me to a room, I don't take off the survival suit. "But you're dry" they hallucinate. Yes yes we are equipped on our racing boats!

    I took a shower and put on a crew outfit. Once I am on board the freighter that the fear and adrenaline surge. My legs are shaking. It's crazy this animal capacity that humans have to manage a survival situation. Then it hits home. Death did not want me today or rather life did not want me to leave it. I'm devastated but the happiest of men because tonight my wife and daughters aren't going to bed crying.

    Coming out of the shower, I am met by the captain and his mate. We fall into each other's arms. They also have trembling legs, they tell me.

    This adventure in no way alters my passion for my job and for the ocean. I would like to thank my team, the race management of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, the rescue teams, who worked to ensure that this rescue operation took place in the best possible conditions.

    I also think of my partners. I thank them for their trust. I will bounce back. We will bounce back.

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    Looking forward to better times

    The last 24 hours have been tough for the competitors in the twelfth Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, which started last Wednesday from Saint-Malo in France. After a series of incidents yesterday evening involving Louis Burton (Bureau Vall?e), Am?lie Grassi (La Boulang?re Bio) and Aur?lien Ducroz (Crosscall) - who all dismasted - and Thibault Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton-ARSEP) who capsized, other skippers have suffered misfortune today (Sunday). In the Rhum Multi category, Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA ?le-de-France - 60000 Rebonds) was rescued by Jean-Pierre Dick (Notre M?diterran?e-Ville de Nice) following the capsize of his catamaran. In the IMOCA class, Fabrice Amedeo (Nexans-Art & Fen?tres) discovered an ingress of water and is heading for Cascais (Portugal), while in the Class40, several competitors have also diverted. The race has been demanding and the warmth of the French West Indies and the finish line is something that must be earned.

    At 2230hrs UTC on the 12 November, Erwan Thiboumery, skipper of the Interaction trimaran racing in the Rhum Multi class, contacted the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe Race Directors to inform them that he was having problems with his headsails. The skipper and boat are doing well.

    The genoa on the trimaran ripped and become stuck at the top of the mast, flying like a flag. The solent, only in place thanks to the swivel hook on the furler, is wrapped around the shrouds and backstay. The skipper has just managed to hoist his mainsail with three reefs.

    Erwan Thiboumery, who has put his race on hold for the moment, is heading for Vigo (Spain) where his team will be joining him to inspect the damage and carry out any possible repairs. Everything will be done to allow him to set sail again in the best possible conditions. More information to follow

    After capsizing around 2000hrs yesterday evening whilst leading the OCEAN FIFTY class of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe solo race, French skipper Thibaut Vauchel-Camus was rescued this morning from the upturned Solidaires En Peloton – ARSEP some 240 miles north of the Azores.
    Vauchel-Camus, 42, is reported to be in good health. A chartered rescue boat, the Merida, skippered by French Figaro racer Adrien Hardy, who is a salvage expert, is on the scene and the objective is to tow the OCEAN FIFTY to the Azores.


    The live tracker to follow the fleet's progress at this link:

    The finish in Guadeloupe is some way off for the competitors still in the race. Considering the differences in speed between the boats that are taking part and the various incidents marking the early days of the transatlantic crossing, the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe fleet has logically stretched out. The extremely fast Ultim 32/23 multihulls led by Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) and Fran?ois Gabart (SVR Lazartigue), are getting close now to the trade winds and can hope to finish in Pointe-?-Pitre on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to Charles Caudrelier’s routers. The IMOCAs and Ocean Fifty boats can also look forward to speeding downwind relatively soon. As for the Class40 and Rhum Multi and Rhum Mono categories, an approaching active front that is currently on the minds of the skippers. For once, the IMOCAs, which perform particularly well with the wind on the beam, are in amongst the Ocean Fifty multihulls. Charlie Dalin (Apivia) is right behind Quentin Vlamynck, while J?r?mie Beyou (Charal) and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) are close astern of Erwan Le Roux. This happy mixture of boats is what makes the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe such a major event.

    On Sunday 13th November (5th day of the race), the fleet of the 12th Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe includes:

    124 boats still racing, with 14 boats retired.
    4 pit stops: Cit’H?tel – R?gion Guadeloupe (Sacha Daunar), Trilogik – Dys de Cœur (David Ducosson), Olivier Heer Ocean Racing (Oliver Heer) and K?ni Piperol (Cap’tain Alternance).
    8 intend to carry out pit stops: Pierre Casenave-P?r? (Legallais), Emmanuel Hamez (Viranga), Daniel Ecalard (SOS Pare-Brise+), Mika?l Mergui (Centrakor), Fabrice Amedeo (Nexans – Art & Fen?tres), Jonas Gerckens (Volvo), Yves Courbon (Edigo Univerre) and Rupert Henry (Eora).
    2 rescues: Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires en Peloton – ARSEP) by Adrien Hardy this morning, and Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA ?le de France – 60 000 rebonds) by Jean-Pierre Dick who went to his assistance this afternoon.
    Damien Seguin (Groupe Apicil) has reached his home port of Lorient after dismasting.

    After passing the front yesterday, the pace has stepped up for the Ultim 32/23 boats. The three frontrunners have clearly made their getaway from the rest of the fleet with Francis Joyon in fourth place on Idec Sport some 450 miles behind and only making ten knots in the past hour, while the leaders are progressing at thirty towards the trade winds. Later today, the leaders will carry out a gybe on the edge of the area of high pressure.

    The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild continues to dominate the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, although still under threat from SVR Lazartigue 30 miles astern. Charles Caudrelier has been impressive and avoided making any mistakes since the start of the race. When Fran?ois Gabart tried to move away from his track approaching the front, Caudrelier had no hesitation in passing through the islands to face rougher conditions and come out in front again.
    As for Thomas Coville, he has lined up behind the two frontrunners and is now some ninety miles behind the leader, which only represents around three hours sailing on these boats, so Sodebo Ultim 3 is still clearly in with a chance.
    Further back, Francis Joyon (Idec Sport) and Yves Le Bl?vec (Actual Ultim 3) are neck and neck with advantage going to the latter, who has accelerated over the past few hours, as he has been able to get more out of his flying Ultim. With the exception of Mis ? part Use it again ! by Extia and Maxi Banque Populaire XI currently off Galicia, the Ultim 32/23 boats now have faster conditions.

    IMOCA skipper Paul Meilhat (Biotherm) said this morning: “It’s not easy, but all is well this morning. I have had a few technical problems since the start, but nothing serious. Conditions have been fairly tough. As soon as there is a bit of wind, the new boats are fast. Yesterday, I saw there was an opportunity to turn south earlier than those out in front. I don’t know if it really paid off, but it was an interesting move. After the front, the seas were really heavy. I managed to accelerate and not hit too many waves. The conditions will be changing soon. During the night we had 35 knots ahead of the front, but this evening there won’t be much wind at all. It’s complicated working how where to position myself. We don’t know whether if we go further south, we’ll have some upwind sailing again. We’ll find out this evening.”

    It was far from being a quiet night for the twelve Rhum Mono and sixteen Rhum Multi boats still racing. The second front swept across the fleet generating rough conditions with sailors and boats suffering.

    In the Rhum Mono category there has been no change at the front. Positioned to the west of the fleet, Jean-Pierre Dick (Notre M?diterran?e - Ville de Nice) is faster than his nearest rivals this morning, with Catherine Chabaud (Formatives ESI Business School Pour Ocean As Common) and Willy Bissainte (Tradisyon Gwadloup) in second and third place behind the leader.

    In the Rhum Multi category, Belgian skipper, Gilles Buekenhout (Jess) heading towards the Azores, took the lead during the night and is slightly faster this morning than second-placed, Roland Jourdain (We Explore). After leading the fleet early in the night, Brieuc Maisonneuve (CMA Ile-de-France - 60 000 Rebonds), has now turned further south and is back in third place. Fabrice Payen (Ille et Vilaine Cap vers l’Inclusion) told us this morning about the conditions. “During the night, we had to deal with the front to get further west and pick up the wind shift. It was just like in the weather books. I changed tack and am now on the starboard tack. Everything is soaked, so I’m waiting for some sunshine now.”
    Behind the front, a westerly air stream is now in place and all of the boats have changed tack to head towards the Azores.

    From Class 40 skippers
    Luke Berry (Lamotte - Module Cr?ation): “It was a bit rough in the front. I lost my two weather vanes, so it’s a bit like sailing blindfolded. We’re still slamming and ahead, the situation is going to be a puzzle.”
    Simon Koster (Banque du L?man): “It’s really the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Heavy seas, wind, a skipper that is a bit worn out, a few odd jobs to do, but at least we are heading south. I don’t know whether the trade winds will be there soon. I think there is another low-pressure system quite some way south. Inside the boat, it’s like a skating rink with a mixture of seawater and diesel that has leaked out.”
    Antoine Carpentier (Redman): “I have both feet firmly on the brakes. There is another low-pressure system moving across to our north. I suppose we’ll have to cross the Azores High to get to the trade winds. For the moment I’m weathering the storm and waiting for more reasonable conditions to go on the attack and make my way back up the rankings. The important thing is to make sure the boat stays in good condition and will offer 100% of her ability.”

    Kito de Pavant (HBF Reforest’Action): “We had a first front with lots of rain and there was no wind behind it, but that didn’t last. The new boats are too fast. I pale in comparison to them. Behind the second front, I’ll tack and head south. It won’t be for long though, as the wind is going to swing around to the SW to complicate things. It’s going to take longer than first thought in any case.”

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    Guadeloupe Ocean Fifty Class leader Solidaires En Peloton ARSEP has capsized, skipper is safe inside the main hull.

    Leader of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe in the Ocean Fifty class French skipper Thibaut Vauchel-Camus has capsized this evening when racing in tough conditions between Portugal and the Azores. The solo skipper is not injured and is sheltering in the central hull of his trimaran. Vauchel-Camus, 43, who had taken the lead in the standings at 2000hrs last night, had just passed through the second cold front since the start of the race and was sailing again towards the south-west on starboard tack when Solidaires En Peloton - ARSEP capsized.

    Dismasting of the Class40s La Boulang?re Bio and Crosscall

    French champion freeskier and offshore skipper Aur?lien Ducroz has dismasted this Saturday evening, as he raced in difficult conditions. His team issued an assurance that the skipper is safe and suffered no physical damage. He has been among the leading group since the start and before he dismasted he was in 11th place in the standings, less than 30 miles from the Class40 leader, Corentin Douguet (Qu?guiner-Innoveo).

    Dismasting of the Class40 La Boulang?re Bio
    At 1900hrs French time French skipper Am?lie Grassi informed Race Direction and her shore team that she was just dismasted aboard the Class40 La Boulang?re Bio. She was racing in 10th position off Cape Finisterre. She is fine and uninjured. There are no water ingress or leaks on La Boulang?re Bio.

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    Breaking: Louis Burton's IMOCA 60' Bureau Valle'e has dismasted in the Route Du Rhumb on Day 4

    The IMOCA fleet had recently crossed a wind shear frontal boundary when the incident occurred

    French skipper Louis Burton (Bureau Valle'e) has dismasted on the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe while lying in ninth place on the solo race from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe which started on Wednesday at 1415hrs. He reported the accident at 1700hrs this afternoon. He is uninjured and his team are in contact with him. More information to follow.

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    While title favourite Charlie Dalin (APIVIA) has been enjoying something of a rich-get-richer scenario at the front of the 36 strong Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe IMOCA fleet, his lead of 60 miles ahead of Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOUt) increasing by the hour, Charles Caudrelier on the Verdier designed Ultim 32/23 Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the out-and-out race pacemaker still has a race on his hands entering what might prove a key phase of the 3542 nautical miles race to Guadeloupe.

    As the leading Ultim duo seek to squeeze through a ‘mousehole’ in the low pressure front that would allow them to hook into the best of a northerly breeze generated off the Bermuda high pressure system, Caudrelier, and his routing cell ashore, are keeping a close eye on Fran?ois Gabart who is 15 miles to his NW.

    Closer to the rhumb line Gabart is actually credited with the lead this afternoon but the next hours will be critical. There is the potential for Gabart to get to the front first but the key question is what is on the other side.
    Ashore Caudrelier -whose potential OCS penalty was annulled early this morning- has American guru Stan Honey, Franck Cammas and Morgan Lagravi?re studying the options whilst Gabart has veteran Jean-Yves Bernot and La Solitaire winner Tom Laperche in his corner crunching the weather models during what could be a definitive stage.

    Meanwhile in Lorient, where he arrived last night with the Ultim Maxi Banque Populaire XI, dejected Armel Le Cl?ac’h is trying to be philosophical, waiting to have his broken daggerboard replaced and a hull repair complete whilst looking to find the best weather window to return to the race course to Gaudeloupe.

    “Everything stopped in a few seconds.” Recalled a hollow eyed Le Cl?ac’h on arrival at his team base, “ There was a big cracking sound and I saw some pieces of the daggerboard pass astern. I was sailing upwind in a bit of wind and choppy seas, but nothing we couldn’t handle. I’ve been through harsher conditions with that daggerboard. So, I can’t explain what happened or why it broke. Some pieces of the daggerboard hit the hull and there are some knocks on it and in one or two places it went through the hull, so we are going to have to see if we can repair that in a reasonable time. Until Saturday evening, the weather conditions are fine and would allow us to set off. After that, the conditions are set to worsen. So we’re giving ourselves 48 hours to decide whether we set off again in the Route du Rhum to finish this story even if the result isn’t what we had hoped for. We won’t be on the podium, but would like to find a way to finish. For now, I don’t know if that is possible.”

    Seguin abandons, Dalin gets richer
    After being hit by a cargo ship which pulled down his rig of Groupe Apicil in the small hours of the morning Damien Seguin has abandoned, the first time ever in an ocean race for the former Paralympic world and Olympic champion. Remaining self sufficient, sailing under rescue kite power, Seguin has been making steady progress back towards the French coast.

    Class leader Charlie Dalin, 160 nautical miles west of Cape Finisterre this afternoon, has everything running in his favour on APIVIA, extending inexorably away from his rivals. Whilst he has many times proven to have a speed edge upwind Dalin has also been always getting into more wind pressure first as he too approaches this weather front which stretches SSW to NNE.

    British weather ace Will Harris summarises, “Things are looking a bit easier for the IMOCAs though as this first front is stopping and decreasing in force. Then a second front is arriving and the fronts merge together, crossing it Saturday evening, the key will be to be south where the fronts merge first, then there is less chance of encountering a light winds zone behind the first front. As soon as the leaders get across this front they will be into the westerly airstream and able to tack south. There will be second front Sunday night requiring a tack to the west and then the next big thing is the Azores or Bermuda high which is quite far to the west. There is a wide trough extending E-W which will have very little wind in it. The leader may be able to get through it and away even further, or indeed may get trapped allowing a catch up.”

    After a first phase of repairs Swiss skipper Oliver Heer left Saint Malo this morning back in solo ocean racing mode but he must make another pit stop, sailing himself into Port La Foret to lift his IMOCA from the water and make a further composite repair to the hull before he can resume racing. His key objective is to get to the finish line in Guadeloupe and clock up essential Vend?e Globe qualifying miles.

    **Rookies going steady **
    Around 150 to 170 miles behind the Dalin, International rookies James Harayda of Britain (Gentoo), Hungary’s Szabi Weeores (Szabi Racing) and China’s Jingkin Xu (China Dream-Haikou) are all making good, steady progress on their first major transoceanic IMOCA race,
    “I have slept a bit last night when I got a bit of separation from some boats and got a few 15-20min naps and food has been the leftover pizza from the night before we left.” Reported the 24 year old Brit Harayda, “And I am feeling a bit dehydrated and so trying to smash some water down me. I feel good, but I am ready for it to get warmer. We have a transition period coming up which is good for me as I hopefully can pull a few miles back as we get close to it. I will be upwind and then this short lived transition period. And so I will be paying a lot of attention to the weather. It is exciting. I have some miles to catch up but there is a long, long, long way to go.”

    Hublot skipper Alan Roura noted that he had almost suffered the same fate as Seguin, “During the second night at sea, it wasn’t much fun. Throughout the night there were a whole lot of cargo ships we needed to avoid in the Bay of Biscay. I managed to snooze for a few moments, as I was really tired. Even my alarm clock took time to wake me. I was lucky, as I was 50 metres away from a huge ship delivering Amazon… A really scary moment, but in the end it worked out fine, so I’m really thinking about Damien and his team.”

    **Favourite Douguet leads compact Class40 peloton **

    With the Class40 fleet continuing towards the SW there are around thirty skippers grouped together in a radius of fifty miles. Ex Figaro stalwart Corentin Douguet (Queginer-Innoveo) leads on his Lombard Lift V2 Queguiner Innoveo. He is closely followed by Ian Lipinski (Cr?dit-Mutuel) as the frontrunners approach the first front.

    For the Class 40s also, getting through the front is likely to be a key moment in the race. But the adventure is already over for Laurent Camprubi (Glaces Romanes), Geoffrey Mataczynski (Fortissimo) and Martin Louchard (Randstad-Ausy). Mikael Mergi (Centrakor) and Maxime Cauwe (Wisper) carried out a pit stop in Camaret, Jean Galfione (Serenis Consulting) in Brest, but all three they have set sail again.

    Australia’s Rupert Henry admitted today that he was very nearly on the casualty list too, only just seeing that a lashing had failed threatening the rig of his Eora. His quick thinking saved the rig and his race. He reported, “ I had a huge problem this morning, my mast almost fell down. I had to stop and sail the wrong way for an hour while I fixed it. But I am going again now. The lashing underneath the furler broke. I saw the forestay go slack so I turned the boat downwind and put a J2 up and replaced it. But it was close, very close to losing the mast. During the night I saw the forestay a little slack. Now I feel pretty tired. It has been quite rough. I was in a good position and then I just started to put the bow down and try and get across them and line up with them before this happened. I am just trying to make a strategy to minimise my losses and get into the fleet.”

    Henry had dropped to 21st, American Alex Mehran on Polka Dot is fifth and the defending title holder Yoann Richomme – who took a four hour penalty after the start - is up to tenth 17 miles behind his former Figaro rival Douguet.

    In the Rhum classes Brieuc Maisonneuve leads the Multi fleet on CMA Ile de France-60,000 rebonds, over 30 miles ahead of Roland ‘Bilou’ Jourdain whilst in the Mono division Catherine Chabaud and Jean Pierre Dick are enjoying a spirited match race in second and third, closest to the conventional route.

    **Eight ABDs **
    Ocean Fifty
    DMG MORI Global One
    Groupe Apicil
    Glaces Romane
    Randstad Ausy
    E. Leclerc
    Rhum Multi
    Rayon Vert

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    Damien Seguin’s IMOCA Groupe APICIL was hit by a cargo ship and dismasted around 0330hrs (French time) this morning. The French skipper is racing on the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe solo race across the Atlantic and was lying in 14th position in the IMOCA class when the incident happened. He was racing in moderate winds and manageable seas. He immediately notified Jean-Charles Monnet, his technical director and the race management of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. The skipper is reported to be fine and uninjured. He is currently trying to cut the mast debris clear of his boat and has set up lights to be seen. He is not seeking assistance. He was positioned about 250 miles to the west of Les Sables d'Olonne at the time of dismasting.

    Damien Seguin dismasted at 0330hrs this morning after being hit by a cargo ship. His starboard foil was damaged but there was no ingress of water. The skipper of Groupe APICIL is motoring to Lorient. He has not requested assistance, but has been forced to retire from the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. After informing his technical director and Race Directors, Damien carried out a thorough check-up aboard his boat. He spent hours tidying up and stowing gear to avoid any damage to the hull. He is heading to his shore base in Lorient which he should reaching in two and a half or three days under motor. He has the wind astern and is making the most of the system developed by Yves Parlier, the Liberty kite (a kite wing which pulls Groupe APICIL along). Seventh in the last Vend?e Globe, Damien Seguin was competing in his fourth Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe and his second aboard an IMOC, this time with anew boat with foils. This is the first time that Damien has failed to complete a major race. His sponsor, the APICIL Group and all of his partners, Groupe ATF, Groupe Seguin and the OCIRP understand the skipper’s disappointment and offer their full support.

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  • Photoboy
    Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe

    Request for redress granted to

    Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

    ?Friday, November 11, 2022 - Since Wednesday at 14:15 hrs, Charles Caudrelier, deemed to have crossed the start line of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe too early, was the subject of a procedure. The latter was lifted last night.

    ?In the Sailing Instructions for the famous transatlantic race between Saint Malo and Pointe-?-Pitre, early starts incur severe penalties: in the event of the start line being crossed too early, the competitor receives a 4hr time penalty, which must be carried out within 48hrs of the start. This is what Charles Caudrelier was set to incur aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. However, the good news came in overnight once the jury was able to come together on the other side of the Atlantic.

    In light of the various elements brought to its attention, namely the position of the Fra 17 Maxi Edmond de Rothschild at the time of the start, the president of the Race Committee has informed Charles that he was not OCS, which effectively means that he was on the right side of the line at the moment the starting gun fired.
    The decision has been passed on to the boat by Race Management.

    ? ?
    Cyril Dardashti, director of Gitana Team, gave his reaction to this decision: “Following the announcement that we had crossed the start line too early, we requested redress from Race Management because Charles believed that this was not the case. In order to justify this decision, we sent the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s GPS track for the whole of the start phase, along with the positioning indicated by the Yellow Brick beacon supplied by the organisation team. Both elements are in agreement and show that we were 50 m from the start line when the starting gun fired at 14:15 hours. It comes as a relief for Charles and for the whole team. He can now dedicate his time solely and fully to his race. It’s shaping up to be a lively and important day.”

    At the helm of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Charles Caudrelier is currently leading the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. At the 07:00 UTC position report this Friday 11 November, as the five-arrow giant was making her way along the Iberian peninsula, she boasted a lead of 26.3 miles over Fran?ois Gabart and 45.4 miles over Thomas Coville.

    The Route du Rhum 2022 in brief

    ?- 12th edition
    - 138 singlehanded sailors competing
    - 4 classes and 2 categories (Ultim 32/23, IMOCA, Ocean Fifty, Class40, RHUM Multi and RHUM Mono)

    Start => Wednesday 9 November at 14:15 hours local time
    - Course for the Ultims = 3,542 miles along the direct route between Saint Malo and Pointe-?-Pitre, which equates to 5,700 km.

    The Ultim class entries
    1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild // Charles Caudrelier
    2. Actual // Yves Le Bl?vec
    3. Banque Populaire XI // Armel Le Cl?ach
    4. Sodebo Ultim // Thomas Coville
    5. SVR Lazartigue // Fran?ois Gabart
    6. Idec Sport / Francis Joyon
    7. Mieux / Arthur Le Vaillant
    8. Use It Again! / Romain Pillard

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    Into the Route du Rhum race rhythm as first big front is anticipated

    With the first 24 hours of racing completed and the record sized fleet of solo racers settling into their ocean racing rhythm, the biggest threat to the lead of Charles Caudrelier and the Ultim 32/23 pacemaker Maxi Edmond de Rothschild seems to be a potential judgment that he jumped Sunday’s 1415hrs start gun.
    With unlucky rival Armel Le Cl?ac’h reporting at midday today that he has a damaged daggerboard and is taking his Maxi Banque Populaire XI to Lorient for analysis – and potentially to fit a spare - favourite Caudrelier was opening the 3542 nautical miles course from Saint Malo to Guadeloupe in confident style. He was around 20 nautical miles further south than Fran?ois Gabart who is progressively winding up his SVR-Lazartigue on which Gabart, 2018’s runner up, is contesting his first ocean race.

    But Caudrelier’s Gitana team are contesting the call that their Ultim broke the line early. The data from the line marker buoys is updated in real time and is now being analysed against the Gitana team’s positioning software and the tracking.
    “All of the data has been recovered from the supplier of the beacons and is being compared to the track of the boat,” reported Race Director Francis le Goff, adding “Either the committee considers that they have made a mistake when they sees these elements and the penalty would be cancelled, or the committee will confirm its first judgement and the International Jury will meet to give a decision.”
    If there is judged to be no penalty required that will be announced this evening. Otherwise a jury hearing is needed and that will require a further 24 hours. If they agree a penalty should be imposed then it must be taken within 48 hours of that decision.
    The leaders were heading upwind across the Bay of Biscay in freshening breezes ahead of the first big frontal system of the course which is expected tonight. Thomas Coville (Sodebo) looks set to venture further west.

    Gabart said this morning, “The first night wasn’t easy, fairly technical with quite a few manoeuvres. It was a starry night, so pleasant sailing conditions. I got off to a cautious start with a few mistakes with my trajectory, but in general, there aren’t any surprises with how everyone is performing. Our idea was always to head off west and then south afterwards. I have just changed tack and am sailing upwind in 20 knots. The wind is set to strengthen today and we should cross the front late in the night. The boat is doing well. It’s a bit harder on the port tack in the swell. I think I’m sailing slightly lower than Gitana and sometimes a bit faster than Banque Populaire XI which I was catching. It’s all very close.”

    In the **IMOCA **fleet the main peloton has been fighting to get south seeking to find the best point to cross the front, at the same not getting too much of a battering in a short, sharp system which could see 40kts plus, but at the same time looking to get good breeze behind it and not drop into the messy edge of the high pressure system. The indomitable Charlie Dalin on APIVIA is sailing to his seeding and was six miles ahead of perennial rival Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) but making more than 2.5 to three knots quicker in the upwind conditions. He was also quicker than the new boats J?r?mie Beyou’s Charal 2 and Kevin Escoffier’s Holcim-PRB being around 18-20 miles behind.

    Kiwi Conrad Colman on the non-foiling Imagine was going well in the early part of the day but as he moved south this afternoon he was crossed by a strong group including wily Seb Marsset (Cap Agir Ensemble) and Eric Bellion (Commeunseulhomme powered by Altavia) both on 2006-7 Farr designs.
    Colman explained, “ We need to pick a spot which has not too much wind but which does not have a big calm spot behind it. So that is why I am positioning myself a little more to the south now, to try and get through the first front.
    The first front should be around early morning tomorrow. I feel pretty tired, I am going to get some food and get a sleep. But overall I feel good, happy with the way I am sailing the boat in these quite challenging conditions. I am full of beans, confident. The weather is nothing horrendous, it is quite lumpy and every once in a while the boat slams with a bang when it comes off a wave, the wind is anything from 18 to 26kts of wind and so we are straight upwind, as tight as we can get with this pretty uncomfortable sea state. What makes it tricky is the wind is extremely variable, your trim the boat for 18 knots and then 26 comes in and you are on your side. It is pretty engaging at the moment.”

    In Saint Malo Kojiro Shiraishi’s team announced the official abandon of their DMG MORI Global One which was damaged in a collision with Swiss rookie Oliver Heer (Oliver Heer Ocean Racing). The DMG MORI shore team have combined forces to help repair the bow and bowsprit of Heer’s IMOCA as they try to get the Swiss skipper back on the race course ‘within two or three days’.

    **In Class40 **the leading group is compacted to within a couple of miles, all pushing west together today. Defending champion Yoann Richomme had pulled up to 26th from 51st after taking his four hours penalty yesterday evening and night for breaking the start line early on Arkea-Paprec.

    He explained, “There were a lot of people pushing towards the line and I forgot to look at the chart. So I was a bit caught out like a schoolboy. There was the possibility of doing the penalty at Fr?hel where there wasn’t much wind and a strong current. The idea was to hang around there and then we wouldn’t lose too much ground. It was a good operation after the bad one at the start. I’m sailing upwind and it’s quite rough. The wind got up off Ushant. It’s going to be a long tack westwards for two or three days. It doesn’t look like much fun in the coming days. There are going to be some complicated transitions so I hope to claw my way back into it little by little. It was a wonderful night in the full moon off Northern Brittany.”
    Italian skipper Ambrogio Beccaria (Allagranda Pirelli) is third at less than two miles behind the leader whilst the USA’s Alex Mehran (Polka Dot) was second, closest to the rhumb line.

    Ocean Fifty: There are three rookies in the top four Ocean Fifty boats currently taking advantage of decent winds and pleasant conditions for their multihulls. Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema) has not flinched since the start and continues to ward off the attacks from S?bastien Rogues (Primonial) on a Southerly route, while Eric P?ron (Komilfo) is back up to fourth place just behind Erwan Le Roux (Koesio).
    The 50-foot trimarans are diving south and as Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires-En-Pelton – ARSEP) explained, “hoping to cross the front 150-200 miles off Cape Finisterre” to avoid the continental shelf and the effects of the hills along the Spanish coast.

    **Rhum Mono: **The first night was more comfortable than expected with the Rhum Mono fleet able to make their way out of the English Channel on one tack. This morning they had to choose whether to round the TSS via the North or head South. Wilfrid Clerton (Cap au Cap Location) chose the former option and is likely to encounter rougher conditions than those who went south, but in so doing will make progress westwards. This afternoon he is in second position, while Jean-Pierre Dick still leads this fleet.

    Rhum Multi: In the Rhum Multi category, Gilles Buekenhout (Jess) has been the big surprise. The Belgian got off to a cautious start, but kept his speed up during the night to take the lead. It is a pleasing situation for the skipper who suffered some serious damage to his Multi40 (designed by Martin Fischer/ Beno?t Cabaret) when he was arriving in Saint-Malo.

    4 skippers have retired: Sam Goodchild (Leyton – Ocean Fifty) after being injured during the pre-start phase, Kojiro Shiraishi (DMG Mori Global One – IMOCA) following a collision off Cape Fr?hel, Oren Nataf (Rayon Vert – Rhum Multi) with a ripped mainsail, Antoine Magr? (E.Leclerc Ville-La-Grand – Class40) after hitting the rocks off the island of Batz.
    -11 Pit stops: Maxi Banque Populaire XI (Armel Le Cl?ac’h – Ultim 32/23), Oliver Heer (Oliver Heer Racing – IMOCA), Mikael Mergui (Centrakor – Class40), Pierre-Louis Attwell (Vogue avec un Crohn – Class40), Martin Louchard (Randstad-Ausy – Class40), Jean Galfione (Serenis Consulting – Class40), Sacha Daunar (Cit’H?tel – R?gion Guadeloupe – Class40), Romain Pilliard (Use it Again ! by Extia), Jean-S?bastien Biard (JSB D?m?nagements – Rhum Mono), Etienne Hoched? (Pir2) et Philippe Poupon (Flo – Rhum Multi).

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