Ultims – Le Cléac’h rounds Cape Horn and heads north

Le Cléac’h rounds Cape Horn and heads north, Anthony Marchand leaves Dunedin and talks of the unrelenting intensity of this race.

Second placed skipper on the ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest solo multihull race around the world, Armel Le Cléac’h passed Cape Horn early this morning (European time/during the South American night) and then took time this afternoon to discuss his feelings after passing out of the Pacific Ocean and making the ‘left turn’ to start his ascent of the Atlantic towards the finish line in Brest, France.

Meantime fourth placed skipper Anthony Marchand completed his second technical stopover this morning, leaving Dunedin, New Zealand early this morning after making repairs to the system which hoists and lowers his remaining foil. He removed the port foil in Cape Town after it was damaged.

Le Cléac’h” It feels good “

This morning at 05:01:50hrs UTC (Sunday 11th Feb), that is some 34 days, 16 hours, 31 minutes and 50 seconds after leaving Brest on Sunday 7th January, Armel Le Cléac’h completed his time in the big south, passing the third of the three legendary capes of round the world racing. 

The skipper of the giant blue and white Maxi Banque Populaire admitted to being a little frustrated at having crossed the Horn in the middle of the night on what is his fourth solo passage past the tip of South America. But he says he is relieved and pleased to be back in ‘inhabited’ sea areas.

“This Cape Horn is really special for me because this time I am doing it in a multihull. I have crossed it three times in a monohull, so this is my fastest time. And that feels different and it changes things up a little! And we are only the second ever to succeed in passing the Horn aboard a ‘flying’ boat. That was one of my goals.”

He continues, “ The Indian Ocean was very complicated, difficult, especially after Australia where I had to make tha big routing to the North of New Zealand. At once it was epic, tedious, challenging. My passage of the Pacific, on the other hand, was more classic, at the front of a depression. I made good averages, days covering 700 to 800 miles. It went by quite quickly, so much the better.”

Le Cléac’h enthused this afternoon, “I’m happy to head back north and towards home. I feel that we are leaving the big south, that we are leaving the quite difficult conditions that I have had for several days. Unfortunately, the transition will not happen immediately because there will be bad weather still for a few more days. But it feels good to see a little bit of civilization, to see land. And I feel that we are going to sail in an area where we are close to rescue, to possible logistical help with our boats. That is reassuring.”

Marchand: “I couldn’t hold back my tears”

Restarting his race at 0512hrs this Sunday morning Anthony Marchand had stayed for a little over 28 hours in Dunedin, on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand, where he and members of his team made technical repairs, mainly to his starboard foil system. 

Jérémy Place, the director of the Actual team who was on site recalls: “We were really well received in Dunedin. The coastguards guided us well, they were very attentive when the boat arrived. The people at the small yard who assisted us were incredible. One person organized everything for us until our dinner tonight after Anthony left. They also helped us a lot working on the boat. They must be very tired. They didn’t realize the size of this boat before they saw it. It was really cool, everyone we met was super helpful. The customs officers were nice, but they were very afraid that the food on board might contaminate the people who came on the boat or that we would unload it. We had to store it in a crate and seal it. Antho then could not open it until he is 20 miles from the port. By now, he must have already found the sausages…..!”

The main work was to repair the mechanism to keep the starboard foil in the down position. The repairs were carried out by Marchand and two members of the Actual team, Gilles Avril and Jérémy Place, the team director. With the work completed the Actual Ultim – which in fact still holds the solo round the world record as Macif – can fly again on port tack. But Marchand’s machine has been handicapped since the port foil was removed in South Africa after it was damaged in a collision with an object in the water. 

But the second technical pitstop hit Marchand harder mentally. He explains, “There are a few moments when we are pushed to our limits so much. At the time this felt like a huge disappointment and I couldn’t hold back my tears. Overcoming difficulties and problems is not so easy. They have a great emotional impact, but I keep in mind that these times are all part of the race. I am constantly fighting. Michel Desjoyeaux’s epithet ‘A passage round the world is one shitfight a day’ is so definitely true. It takes a lot of energy to manage these things. Despite everything, I only want one thing: to do everything I can to get to Brest and hold on to my fourth place. But now I am happy to be at sea again and to get back into my little life on board. I am more determined than ever to complete this world tour. Despite everything, I know the struggle will be ongoing, both physically and mentally. This requires complete and utter commitment, all the time, and that’s why we don’t do this every year!”

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