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  • The 1st Chapter Begins: The Arkea Ultim Challenge Is Underway!

    Last minute - ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest: The big story begins now!


    All images copyright Alexis Courcoux

    It is a historic day, one that remains engraved in memories for a long time and has the gift of making history. The ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest, the first round-the-world race, in a multihull and solo, began this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. for six skippers, participants in an extraordinary challenge. The countdown was given jointly by Julien Carmona, President of Credit Mutuel Arkea and Cr?dit Mutuel de Bretagne, Francois Cuillandre, Mayor of Brest and President of Brest Metropole, and Olivier Kersauson, illustrious sailor with a record time around the world.


    https://www.youtube.com/live/SHJ-fd7_L6s?


    Since early morning, all the ingredients had come together for a party like no other with a large audience. They discovered emotional sailors, aware of what awaits them and then this clear and luminous sky in the background of their “goodbye”. The mild conditions at the start – 10 to 15 knots of wind – offered a breathtaking start, a perfect warm-up to find the right settings and ensure the crossing of the Bay of Biscay. This is the beginning of a new story where certainties are rare, unknowns are numerous and organizations are put to the test. The skippers take with them the desire for exploits, the guarantee of a breathtaking spectacle as well as the element of carelessness and admiration which floated among the crowd gathered to encourage them.






    https://www.arkeaultimchallengebrest.com/en

    THE LAST CONFIDENCES OF THE SAILORS BEFORE DEPARTURE



    Eric Peron (ULTIM ADAGIO)


    “Last night, I invited two friends over for a drink, and I slept well. As the boat has been present at the pontoon for a long time, we saw the village build up there, the excitement progress, and that set the pace for our preparation. Yesterday, we were still sorting out details to leave. We are ready… We agree to be ready in this way. It's time to celebrate a historic moment. This evening, after a jibe or two, we will finally be in place for this round the world trip. In the meantime, there is a whole departure protocol that I have entrusted to the technical team. We're not going to be roughed up, there are a lot of maneuvers but it should go well. "



    Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild)


    “I tried to shield myself from emotions, especially for my children, who never really saw me leave for so long. They are worried, but I reassured them. Everything is fine because we do what we know how to do, what we want to do. We are privileged to be at the start of this race and to be at the helm of a boat such as Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. We must remember this every time we wonder if we are afraid or when we tell ourselves that it is going to be hard. We can't complain. It's just a little hard but it will pass as soon as the starting line passes. "



    Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3)


    “It’s cool, I slept well last night. I have a little knot in my stomach because it's going to be a long day, full of emotions. 'Goodbyes' are never very pleasant, everyone dreads it, but it's nice. The most beautiful movement of the score will be the start, I think. Afterwards we will be in the race, we will have put on the racing cap. We're going to leave under gennaker. There is therefore a big sail to deploy, we will have to position ourselves well and make a good start to thank our partner Actual and the team. Until the equator, we won't have time to get bored. "



    Tom Laperche (SVR-Lazartigue)


    “There are definitely a lot of emotions. Moments like that, you don't experience many in a lifetime. Seeing the team does something. In recent weeks, they have been on the lookout for all aspects of the boat and they have worked a lot. I trust them, I have a friendly relationship with them. It's strong to feel like I'm leaving on this boat with this whole team watching over me and on this boat. I have lots of scenarios, lots of questions in mind and at the same time, I am happy to have the privilege of sailing around the world on the SVR-Lazartigue trimaran. I'm going to make the most of it! "





    Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3)

    “This is my first world tour without my parents. My parents are elsewhere, I am doing this race for myself and for them, out of a sense of loyalty towards them. I said that last night, it was terrible but maybe verbalizing it freed something. I feel very happy and very in tune with a very pleasant moment in my life. World tours are special opportunities to really be someone and to be with my team, this amazing group that I really chose. I am already in the maritime, sports, operational, very directly anchored in the boat. Mother nature has been cool with us with this departure which will be very aesthetic under the sun. "





    Armel Le Cleac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI)


    “I hope that the show will live up to what the public gave us this morning. I admit that I don't like getting too close to the trophy, it brings bad luck. I've been dreaming of a big race starting from Finist?re for a long time, everything comes together for a great story. Now, it's up to me to succeed in my mission and return here at the end of February. Like a Formula 1 driver, you have to get into your race. Afterwards it remains a great moment of sharing, of emotions and we cannot be indifferent to it. I experienced that in the Vend?e Globe and there too, it was strong. I live to experience this too! "
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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  • #2
    45 knot speed peaks, slaloming past cargo ships and Cape Finisterre is already passed!





    After leaving Brest at 1330hrs Sunday lunchtime the leading ULTIMs on the ARK?A ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest have already covered the 350 nautical miles across the Bay of Biscay and are passing Cape Finisterre around 0600hrs UTC this morning after reaching speeds of 45kts during the first night at sea. Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) leads the fleet but the gaps are tiny: only 17 miles separate the leader from fifth placed Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3).






    Speeds and routings have been as were predicted but it is still impressive to see how fast the leaders have devoured Biscay, but things look a little more challenging from midmorning today.


    “They went very quickly last night with a favorable wind strength and a good angle. We recorded peaks of 45 knots.” reports Guillaume Rottee, the race director. “There have been small changes which reflect to the difference in the breezes between the East and the West. Charles Caudrelier has been gaining for a few hours now and they have had to be particularly vigilant, especially as traffic is particularly busy between Ushant and Cape Finisterre. They had to carefully overtake a number of cargo ships!”
    High speeds are on the menu today. The winds should strengthen around 25 knots at the end of the morning with gusts to 30, 35 knots in the middle of the day.








    “it is all very close amongst the first four. A nice quick uneventful crossing of the Bay of Biscay. No agreement on exactly what will happen with this low pressure area so we are all barreling in there, so far it seems, aiming for a similar spot. It will all start to get a bit funky around 11z this morning.” Reports Will Oxley from the Sodebo routing cell.








    Around midnight last night Tom Laperche skipper of SVR-Lazartigue messaged:

    “It’s the dead of night we’re going down towards Cape Finisterre and we’re all side by side with the different boats. There is a super irregular wind, which is quite rare: one minute we're at 40 knots, the the next at 15 knots, and what's more, we're slaloming between the cargo ships! It's not easy but I managed to take a few naps. The start was great, a lot of emotions as we set off round the world but very happy to have left. The procedures and the progress went well with the team. It was beautiful to pass Ushant and the start line in the lead. I did a few gybes, I ate well, took a few naps... The rest is becoming clearer but it's not so obvious yet.”




    ************************************

    ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest: The cavalcade before the brakes apply




    1ST DAY UPDATE.

    The skippers of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest have set off since Sunday (1:30 p.m.) and they don't really intend to take it easy. Engaged in a hell of a speed race, the competitors crossed the Bay of Biscay in one night and are progressing 200 miles from the Portuguese coast. Speed ​​peaks of 45 knots have already been recorded. From now on, eyes are fixed on the evolution of a depression that they will encounter from Wednesday.


    Of course, we were all warned. On land, when it was time to bundle up and get back to the routine of daily life, at a time when yesterday's beautiful day was already stored away in the memory box, we all looked at the "map" (the cartography ). And then there is a form of surprise, which, rest assured, will go away after a few days: the dizziness that strikes you when you see the speeds and the progress of the skippers. At the end of this afternoon, as they continue to progress in the South at the latitude of Portugal, we must take into account that the competitors have already covered more than 650 miles (1046 km) in just over 24 hours.





    “We feel that there is desire and competition”

    The perception of all those who are used to following world tours is thus shaken up. We think of several thoughts the sailors had before their departure. Armel Le Cleac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) notably: “We can be at the Cape of Good Hope in 12 days and at Cape Horn in 30 days. In IMOCA, it took more than double the time. It totally changes the vision of a world tour . ” Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3) agrees: “What’s crazy is this feeling of traveling very quickly, of being in the Canaries in 3 days, in Cape Verde 23 hours later…”










    This great journey began on Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. and a little over a day later, they are progressing more than 250 miles west of the Portuguese coast. The emotion of the start gave way to the race. “It was great, a real torture too,” assures Eric Peron (ULTIM ADAGIO). You did everything to bring tears to my eyes and of course it’s moving . ” “It was a very good start ,” confides Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3). We feel that there is desire, competition, it’s really very pleasant.”

    “It’s great to degolf in one night”

    And the skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 added: “I don't know if we can keep up the pace but we're off to a strong, very strong start”. When he spoke, he was “sinking into the dark” during the first night of this world tour. The sailor who has circumnavigated the world 8 times had peaks “between 38 and 43 knots” . At the race direction, we “recorded peaks of 45 knots” , added Guillaume Rottee, the race director.





    A sprint therefore but with constant vigilance, especially tonight. Already because “the wind was extremely irregular, sometimes at 40 knots, sometimes at 15 knots ,” confides Tom Laperche (SVR-Lazartigue). But also because you have to “slalom between the cargo ships” says the youngest in the race. “They had to overtake a certain number of cargo ships ,” recognizes Guillaume Rottee. “It's great to degolf in one night” , appreciates Eric Peron who had to deal with “small electronic problems” .






    https://arkeaultimchallengebrest.com/en




    While waiting, already, for the first depression

    Eric, whose boat is Archimedean, was logically left behind (95 miles) while the other five boats are only 20 miles behind. “We stay very close together, it’s great ,” smiles Tom Laperche. The previous evening, Armel Le Cleac'h had gybed slightly further west than the others before joining them. “We wanted to do just one sail change instead of two, we didn't want to miss the wind shift by being too far east and we wanted to avoid the axis of the freighter rail in the Bay of Biscay” , deciphers Nicolas Lunven from the Banque Populaire routing unit.






    Since the end of the morning, the wind has strengthened, around 25 knots and gusts of 30/35 knots were expected this afternoon. Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) maintains the lead on the great circle. “After their beautiful straight into the Bay of Biscay, we have the right to a speed race” , deciphers Thierry Chabagny from the routing unit of Actual Ultim 3. Among the challenges of the day, the crossing of a thalweg (an area of ​​low pressure troughs bordered by high pressures). In just a few hours, the wind shifted from South-East to North-West, a 180? shift to negotiate. “It wasn't necessarily easy with passing squalls and sometimes slightly weak winds,” adds Nicolas Lunven. This is why the fleet was slightly scattered.”

    The rest should be relatively stable with this northwest flow throughout the day, which should maintain the differences. What the skippers and routers are examining carefully is the significant depression which is forming towards the West and which they will negotiate at the latitude of the Azores. “It’s a depression that circulates very quickly, which is deepening and whose trajectory is still uncertain ,” adds Nicolas. “It starts Wednesday morning and until Thursday evening, it’s going to be tough,” assures Thierry Chabagny who sees it as “a first level crossing” . “The challenge is knowing where to put the cursor to position yourself well. Several options are on the table and the teams have not yet decided. We still have 24 hours to decide . ” One certainty: everyone knows that the faster the skippers go at the moment, “the less you will get hit on Wednesday” concludes Thierry. The race has only just begun and we have the guarantee that the pressure will intensify very quickly.

    https://arkeaultimchallengebrest.com/in


    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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    • #3



      Road to the first depression


      The days follow but they are not the same on the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest fleet. Released from the clutches of the anticyclone that stuck them yesterday off Madeira, Maxi skipper Edmond de Rothschild and his road companions prepare to negotiate muscle conditions in the coming hours.

      "End of the third day at sea. We passed Madeira tonight and here we are in a short reach, we are going to look for a big front with a little wind in it and some sea! "We've got a lot of fun in the world, but we've got a great deal of fun." Charles Caudrelier




      Interview Charles Caudrelier: “43-45kts was a little bit too fast for the start of a round the world race!”


      On board - Charles CAUDRELIER sur son bateau


      Tuesday’s ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest skipper interview is with Charles Caudrelier who has led the six boat fleet of ULTIMs since the first night. He has maintained that small margin continuously, working hard to benefit from the smallest changes in the breeze and this afternoon was starting to prepare mentally and physically for the first big blow of this first ever solo non-stop around the world race on ULTIMs. And this afternoon it takes three attempts to get the Route du Rhum winning skipper to pick up the phone…





      “I’m coming out of my nap,” Caudrelier admits quickly restoring his equilibrium to his usual level of lucidity and high motivation.

      How do you summarise your start to the race?


      "It’s a round the world, we’re not in “Route du Rhum” mode. We had a hard time on the Bay of Biscay, I had to steer the boat well and I didn't sleep much the first night. But I managed to rest yesterday and slept well last night. It's so important to stay in shape. I try to sail my course without worrying too much about the others. We're not going to have much wind in the next few hours, then a whole load quite soon afterwards, like tomorrow."

      Are you impressed by the pace from the start?


      "For sure there is a definite, noticeable intensity between us, that’s for sure, even a little too much sometimes. I calmed things down in the breeze for the boat, especially after I was hitting 45, 46 knots. That really felt a bit quick for what is, after all, the start of a round the world race. We started out fast but I think in time everyone will find their rhythm and it will all settle down little by little, especially as things get serious tomorrow with the first depression. But it’s nice to see that we’re all stuck close together."



      So, today you are slowed by an anticyclonic bubble that you are trying to avoid being stuck in, what are the priorities right now?


      "We have to manage to get under it. The closer you pass the centre the better angle you get, a good shift earlier but you have less wind. It’s a bit of a balance between shift and pressure. We are not seeing the result right away. I'm the first to get in so everyone will come back at me. That is all part of the game!"

      Tomorrow afternoon, there is this first depression. What is your strategy, have you determined a course, a plan with your routing cell?


      "Well it is evolving a bit, It's changing a little but overall we don't really have much of a choice. We will have to find the right balance between “not too much wind” and “not too much sea”. Of course, the course is better if you go through it but the risk is greater. And at the start of our round the world we don’t really want to play with fire. We have to be able to set the cursor in the right place."

      And where should it be placed?


      "We know that the more we get to the South and east, the safer. You obviously lose a little time on the optimum route but it's still early in the round the world, you have to be prudent, I admit that I haven't focused too much on it yet. The medium and long term, I leave it to the routers. I concentrate on the coming hours just setting up the day well, managing it well."

      Might that still create bigger gaps between you?


      "Yes, it can help to spread the fleet out a bit. No one is really going to pass it at the exact same place, no one will have the same performance and then there are a lot of manoeuvres to be done, which can also create gaps. In the anticyclone, everything is a bit random right now and the perfect position is never easy to find. But there is a brick wall in front of us so the gaps can also be reduced to nothing."


      Is being in the lead, even in such a tight fleet, a bonus?


      "I don't think about the ranking at all. I know if I start thinking about it, I quickly get obsessed with it. I go my way without thinking too much about others. When I talk about others, I get brought to heel by my routers (laughing). It’s good, we are in the lead but that doesn’t mean anything."

      Are you feeling good, though?


      "Yes I'm happy. I slept well, I can eat well and it’s really great. Maybe I'll take another nap but that's okay!"




      RACE UPDATE. From tomorrow afternoon, “it’s going to be pretty tough.”


      “In this anticyclone, everything is random,” evaluates Charles Caudrelier. The leading posse of five have been getting through it since this morning. The skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild holds the lead as they turn towards the West."

      “In terms of conditions, it will become very light” confided Will Oxley from Thomas Coville’s routing cell (Sodebo Ultim 3) now we are trying to position ourselves to get underneath the approaching weak HP. It looks like it will be pretty light. How close do we dare to go to get the shift with a classic "gull wing" move?."

      Meantime Le Cleac'h's more southern strategy is looking to a shift in the east a little earlier.

      This afternoon with the wind less than 7 knots, the skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire XI was the only one to be making more than 10 knots. But all eyes are on this depression which stretches from Ireland to Cape Verde. “ It is a wall to cross with winds around 40 knots and waves of at least 4 to 6 meters. The southerly wind will gradually come back in and things will start to get tougher,” underlines Guillaume Rotte, the race director. “Starting tomorrow afternoon they will really get into the heart of the matter.”

      **********************************

      Transition time ahead of the first big low


      https://www.arkeaultimchallengebrest.../actualite/138

      A night of light winds and multiple gybes, passing about 30 miles west of Maderia and its no-go zone to protect its cetaceans, has seen Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue) take the lead on the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest.

      Negotiating an anticyclonic zone since yesterday has been something of a high wire act, go too close to the centre and there is less wind and to the east the skippers are sailing further and taking longer to get to the favourable shift. But this morning speeds are back up in the order of 22-25kts in 12-15kts of SE’ly winds.



      Undoubtedly the SVR Lazartigue routing cell led by Jean Yves Bernot has done the best job over this short term passage, though the VPLP design is known to be quickest in the light and upwind. Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire XI) has not done so well in the east and has dropped a few miles. Nonetheless it is all relative considering the big low which will is coming in for the fleet from this afternoon. It seems Banque Populaire XI was hoping for more wind further from the center of the and approached from further east and then he just had to deal with the conditions Armel found himself in.


      “We danced very close to the flame along with Gitana, Actual got burnt and it seems SVR got it just right. They do also go quicker in the light.” Noted Will Oxley of the Sodebo routing cell this morning.”


      Laperche (SVR-Lazartigue) this morning says he has taken the opportunity to sleep and take care of the boat: “I have my bearings, I have tidied up well, I went around the boat yesterday, I will do it again this evening ( Tuesday) ".
      Speaking of the incoming big low Anthony Marchand (Actual), like the others, has been preparing himself and his boat. “Going into six metre waves, after three days at sea, I feel good, I am starting to switch to 'offshore' mode, less in tactical regatta mode. You can quickly get caught up in the game of in contact racing, which can be a bad idea. I have to manage to put the cursor where I want it, especially to get through this depression which will, I know, be more complicated.”




      On the ranking at 0700hrs this Wednesday, the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was leading the way, with a 13-mile lead over the Maxi Edmond-de-Rothschild, 20 over Sodebo Ultim 3, around forty over the Maxi Banque Populaire XI and around sixty over Actual Ultim 3. Everyone has the Canary Islands in their sights.


      And it will be a complicated day. Rest needs to maximised but the breeze will head all the way round to the SW as the front comes in. The leaders will go through it tonight with winds over 35kts before getting into the NW’ly wind behind it which will be very beneficial to the first into the new, strong breeze.
      " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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      • #4
        DAY 4 UPDATE.



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



        Facing depression alone in ULTIM is a bit like being hit with a hammer to the head: the best time is when it stops. For thirteen to fifteen hours, the four giants faced the stormy winds generated by the first large depression to arise on the route to the Ocean. Roughly put to the test last night , Armel Le Cleac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire : "That was pretty much it, I had reduced the canvas a lot to tackle this delicate passage. Then there was a big shift in the wind, very clear, with gusts of over 50 knots. At night, in torrential rain, it wasn't very comfortable. Making a tack in these conditions, alone, in ULTIM, is the most complicated exercise. It took a little time, I managed to put everything back in the right place and, a priority, I didn’t break anything.”






        Third in the 4:00 p.m. standings, this Thursday, January 11, the skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire west, more than six hundred miles from the Cape Verde archipelago. “This grand tour is unprecedented,” continues the winner of the last Transat Jacques Vabre in ULTIM. "Generally, we cut in the middle, except that there are no trade winds . This constrained route causes a race of “little horses” , well aligned one behind the other.
        A little frustration for Armel Le Cleac'h temporarily deprived of any tactical opportunity to get back on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and SVR-Lazartigue, who are close to forty miles ahead. For now, the important thing is to breathe after this passage. “Physically,” adds Le Cleac’h, “it was very athletic . We have passed this big, slightly stressful trap, and we are continuing the road towards better conditions. This allows us to reassure ourselves and to consider a simpler future.”





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

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





        Seeking the trade winds





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

        The battle continues but it is much less intense than the 48 hours. This morning, Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) was progressing at 14 knots, in second Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue, 2nd) at 12 knots and all making ‘cruising speeds’ less than half of what they were doing yesterday .
        “Last night not much happened,” smiles race director Guillaume Rottee. “Since yesterday, it's been a straight course which should take down them into the trade winds".
        The moderate conditions should allow the skippers to make a full check of their boats over the course of the day and deal with any small damages or maintenance needing done.



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



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


        REPLAY! THE ROUTING CELLS RE-RUN THE WEEK


        |



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

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





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

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

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


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        • #5
          Le Cleac'h explains his sail damage, Laperche leads to Equator





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













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







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

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




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


          *********************

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







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


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


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


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

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


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

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



          ********************************

          The entrance door of the Pot-au-Noir!


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





          At the gates of the South Atlantic


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




          An inactive doldrums


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

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


          Duel of openers


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


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

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


          " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"



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