After suffering damage this morning at around 0430hrs UTC, when lying in second place in the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest, some 1300 nautical miles west of Cape Town, solo skipper Tom Laperche on the ULTIM SVR Lazartigue is heading towards Cape Town with an ingress of water under control.
The hard collision damaged the daggerboard case causing a significant leak. “I had been working pretty well all night,” reported the 26 year old skipper this afternoon, “I had found good sail configurations and settings, and we were moving neither too fast nor too slow with a good average and speeds of around 35 knots. Towards the end of the night I felt a huge shock in a big crash. Hitting the daggerboard damaged the bottom of the hull and in a fraction of a second, water was coming into the central section. I walked around the boat quickly and realized that the boat was remaining controllable. We had to slow down as much as possible and furl up the sails. We must now bring the boat in as undamaged as possible.”
The damage has been stabilized, Laperche is safe and being assisted by his technical team to try to bring the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue to Cape Town. He was around 80 miles behind race leader Charles Caudrelier when the high speed collision with an object occurred.
“The boat was going well until then and was enjoying herself,” continues Laperche. “Now it’s super hard, for the boat, for me and the whole team with all these people who worked so that the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was at the start and that after ten days of racing we had been at the head of the fleet on a round the world race We now have to manage the next four days at sea without it getting any worse. I managed to set the boat up in the right direction and am not to go too fast. I will monitor water levels and the daggerboard movements. We still have 35 knots of wind but it should ease in a little over a day with calmer seas. I remain in contact with the whole team and we will try to find the best solutions to reach Cape Town.”
Cécile Andrieu the Team Manager commented
“Tom is doing well physically. The impact was quite violent because the boat was moving at 35 knots at the time of the collision. It’s a hard blow for everyone because his race had been magnificent for ten days. But he is already very motivated to get his boat to safety. We are in permanent contact with him to analyze as best as possible the damage to the boat, contain it and find the best route to reach Cape Town where his arrival is estimated on Monday morning. The routing cell continues to communicate with him. The entire technical team is gathered in Concarneau and will leave for Cape Town to be with Tom. We will study the options for the future.”
Meantime race leader Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) expressed his dismay and solidarity with the young rival with whom he had been duelling since the start. Caudrelier on the powerful Verdier designed ULTIM had seemed to be threatening the 24 hour solo sailing record last night with a run to 841 miles, some ten miles short of the record set in November 2017 by François Gabart en route to the current solo round the world record of 42 days.
Change of atmosphere for Caudrelier
Caudrelier reported this morning, “Sad news this morning. Tom has announced he had a problem on his boat. It looks like the damage is serious. We’d been having a great contest, one that was incredible for someone aged just 25. I can remember what it was like when I was 25. But with a boat like that, I wouldn’t have been able to deal with it. Even now at 50…….pfft. To cheer myself up, I have gone for some monkfish curry. I know that Armel has some too, so I hope he enjoys his. And I took advantage this morning, as there is less pressure on me. I don’t need to watch the speed as much as when Tom was there. I took advantage to tidy things up and give the boat a bigcheck. We had been racing at a crazy pace. The atmosphere has changed now. And the way we sail.”
Caudrelier has now more than 700 miles in hand over third placed Thomas Coville. The leader is at the front of a low pressure front which should push him at least as far as the Kerguelen Islands at the same kind of speeds in good sea conditions. This evening, the Maxi Sodebo 3 gybed to stay in the depression which he hopes to ride over the coming days to stay in contact. Fourth and fifth, Actual Ultim 3 and Banque Populaire XI will have to negotiate lighter winds. Le Cléac’h reported this afternoon, “I am offshore of Rio de Janeiro and the passage down the Brasilian coast has been long, we are downwind now and starting to get some breeze, I have 20kts now, it is still warm and I am in light clothing which helps when I have manoeuvres to do. But it will cool down quickly. We are having to go in a quite southerly direction and that is the programme for the future, it is a bit of a long route but by the weekend the temperature will be down and we will get to the south. I am catching a few miles on Antho’ who is a bit to my east. It is bad news about Tom I hope he can get back in the race soon.”
In fifth position Le Cléac’h is about 240 miles behind Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3). In sixth Adagio, sailed by Éric Péron, is now into the southern hemisphere.
For more information on ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest, please click HERE.