Ultims – Leader Caudrelier “I want a great finish, to share with my team”

Today, Monday, four of the five ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest skippers were reached for a press conference. Charles Caudrelier revealed he has some damage that he has had since the very early days and spoke of his ideals of prudence and precautions which will be implemented before he finishes. Second placed Thomas Coville is happy to be the skipper who covers the most ground at the moment. In fourth Anthony Marchand is enjoying his sailing and has a race on his hands with Éric Péron 400 miles behind. Péron is delighted to be carrying on his race with the prospect of a fight with Marchand on ULTIMs which are now more evenly matched.

Some 1,800 miles from the finish in Brest, leader Charles Caudrelier sees a tough, potentially hazardous finish in prospect. Two depressions will follow one another across the Bay of Biscay, bringing quite fierce conditions. These have been looming large on the agenda for Caudrelier and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild routing team for a good few days now.  Should he risk getting into these big systems, with a potentially 8 meter sea or not? As a consequence right now Caudrelier’s ETA, estimated time of arrival, varies depending on the risk they assume (Friday February 23 if he passes it) or Monday 26 (if it does not pass through it).

Then at 2300 and 2800 miles behind, Thomas Coville and Armel Le Cléac’h are progressing towards the northern hemisphere. The equator is still 800 miles ahead for Coville’s Sodebo Ultim 3. In the southern oceans, Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3) and Éric Péron (ADAGIO), are closing in on Cape Horn, which Marchand should round during Tuesday night and Péron on Wednesday morning.

Charles Caudrelier (Edmond de Rothschild): I’m not going to sacrifice the team’s work just because of impatience”

” I’m motivated. We feel that it get towards the end but we know that it this is not over considering what is in store for us. Severe weather, with big seas don’t represent the dream finish. There are races that have ended badly in the Bay of Biscay, which is a most difficult sailing area with cross seas, the intercontinental shelf, very irregular winds. And there is nothing worse than the wind from North West. The decision (on his navigation choices) has not been made. It seems very limiting to me to go there now, but the models are not liming up.  There is a first depression, which I do not plan to go near but then another one behind which complicates the matter. These are conditions that can be dealt with but all it takes is one rogue wave to break everything. If I really had to go there, I would undoubtedly go, but I am in no hurry to finish: I want a great arrival, to share with my team. We are talking about 8m, 8.50m of sea with a wind forecast at 35-40 knots, which rather means 45 to 50 knots and 70 in squalls. On the fourth day of the race, in the first depression, I broke my front beam. First, I saw nothing, then I discovered a piece of carbon in the cockpit. I’ve put straps everywhere. You see what the sea can do to a boat like ours when it hits: there were 4 meters of sea and 40 knots of wind, for an hour. I don’t really want to spend twelve hours in 8 meters of sea. On this round the world we have amply highlighted the work of the team. I’m not going to sacrifice all of that just because of impatience.”

Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3): “Anything can happen at any time”
“I’m getting closer to the finish at a faster pace than Charles (Caudrelier) and Armel (Le Cléac’h) for the moment. Is Charles beyond reach? I don’t think even he would want to answer that question. In just a few seconds, we can lose it all in a mechanical sport, as Tom (Laperche) reminded us. I can remember Toyota too, when they were winning the Le Mans 24-hour race, until the two leading cars suffered damage just before the finish. But Team Gitana has shown over the past two years their technical ability, which is what everyone is aiming for and which is so tricky to achieve. We’re still in the contest and anything can happen at any moment, which is both magical and terrifying. Even as we approach Brittany. Is his lead enough? We don’t know. Anything can happen to complicate things and I’m not gambling on his pace.”

Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3): “At Cape Horn, we’re out of the worst.”
“Everything is going well and I got some rest. I can’t wait to get to the Horn! I had forgotten just how great it was to get past the Horn on an Ultim. I will be rounding it at night, which is bad news, but with Biotherm (in The Ocean Race), I rounded it by day. It’s obvious that it will be a huge relief, particularly as we spent more time than the others in the Indian and Pacific. Two great oceans, but it was complicated. The weather hasn’t favoured us for a while, which is what annoys me the most. We knew we would probably have to be under less sail and that there would be sections like that. I have managed to accept that and am trying to sail now heeling over and accepting how the boat is performing. We’re slamming upwind and without foils, which is really punishing. If we manage to focus on what’s going on, we manage to get the speed up. Obviously, it is annoying (to be punished technically). If I didn’t feel that, I wouldn’t be a real competitor. It is obvious that Éric is going to catch up, but we don’t have to be defeated by that. Maybe, we’ll have a great fight on our way back up the Atlantic. I would prefer seeing us battling it out on our way up to Brest rather than sail up casually as if we were cruising. We’ll be doing what we can and that’s fantastic.”

Éric Péron (ULTIM ADAGIO): “My boat is almost at 100% of her ability.”
“I’m sailing in a warm front in conditions like we are used to in Brittany: grey skies, lots of rain, a SW’ly wind as we always get. The seas are fairly calm and it’s smooth sailing eastwards. I’m getting closer to my old friend, Anthony (Marchand). In a race, the goal is to move on up. It’s always nice to have fewer people between the leader and the finish. There are 300 miles between us, which means it can be done, but we need to be aware that it won’t always be like that. We’ll have to see what happens with the weather. My boat is at 100% of her ability. ‘Antho’ has a boat that can no longer fly and whose performance is not far off mine. I haven’t really looked at my supplies. I’ll do that after Cape Horn, but I don’t think it’s a problem. I ate less than planned and I took on board more than required, so that should work out. I still have some oranges left, so everything will work out fine.”

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