ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest leaders pacing each other as they seek a trade winds route south

Leaders of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest, the solo Ultim multihull race around the world, Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue) and Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), have continued to pace each other, less than seven miles apart, racing at average speeds in excess of 30 knots as they pass some 500 miles to the west of the Cape Verde islands.

After emerging from a stormy front last night which saw windspeeds reach more than 40kts, the four leading ULTIMs are racing in pairs – Laperche and Caudrelier now about 35 miles ahead of Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire XI) and Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3). This chasing duo have made up nearly 20 miles over the course of the day.

The leaders are in relatively modest NW’ly winds – around 15kts – and are looking to get west to hook into the E’ly trade wind which will take them south to the Equator. Despite a slow morning both Laperche and Caudrelier have made more than 660 mile in the 24 hours to 1700hrs UTC this afternoon.

Last night the four giants passed through the stormy winds generated by the first big depression of the course since leaving Brest on Sunday.

Armel Le Cléac’h today recalled the passage of this very active feature: “The wind strengthened from ahead as expected, pretty much as I was anticipating it to do, I had reduced sail area a lot, well in advance to tackle this slightly delicate passage. Then there was a big shift in the wind with gusts of over 50 knots. At night, in torrential rain, let’s just say it wasn’t very comfortable. Making a tack in these conditions, alone in Ultim, is a very complicated undertaking. It took me a little time but I managed get through and to settle everything back in the right place and most importantly I didn’t break anything.”

Le Cléac’h added “This round the world really is unprecedented. Generally, we cut the equator more towards the middle except that there are no trade winds. Physically last night was tough but we are through it in good shape, and right now getting down the track in better conditions. For the foreseeable future it is looking OK.”

Behind Anthony Marchand on the Actual Ultim 3 is also through the front in fifth place whilst this Thursday afternoon it is the turn of Éric Péron aboard his Ultim with straight appendages. He is still making good speeds and has stabilised his defict to the leading group at around 350 miles, all the time learning more about his ADAGIO trimaran. “Above all, I try not to do stupid things, not to be overconfident and don’t get myself into awkward situations. I make sure I don’t get caught off guard.”

The routing experts are anticipating the leaders crossing the Equator on Saturday during the second half of the night, so around six and a half days after starting. On his 2017 record breaking circumnavigation Francois Gabart’s passage time to the Equator was 5d 20h 45m, the fastest solo time remains Thomas Coville’s 5d 17h 11m and the best ever is is that of Spindrift 2 at 4d 20h 07m

For more information on ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest, please click HERE.

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JPK August 2023
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