Ultims – Sliding fast on a perfect front and contemplating the Big South

Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) has opened a 70 miles lead on second placed Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue) as the ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest’s two pacemakers contemplate their rapid descent into the Southern Ocean, set to pass Tristan de Cunha tonight, making between 34 and 36 knots with some 1400 miles still to sail to pass the longitude of the solo ULTIM race round the world’s first great Cape, the Cape of Good Hope.

Whilst Laperche, at 26, is set to experience the ‘big south’ for the first time, the endless grey and barren seas are a known quantity for double The Ocean Race winner Caudrelier. But it is the poetic Thomas Coville, just over 400 miles behind the two leaders, who is really relishing his return to the south.

“Sodebo is moving at 35 knots on very flat seas. The sun comes up out of the water. This means something very important on a round the world. That means that we are heading east. We now have this incredible scene where the sun rises right in front of us.” He smiled on his early morning video.

After negotiating the west side of the Saint Helena high pressure zone, the former solo round the world record holder (49 days and 3 hours in 2016) has made his turn to the left. And tonight with his bows pointing more towards he says,“For those of who chase records, this is where we see the possibility of doing so. I manage to cut the edge of the anticyclone (Saint Helena) thanks to a depression which came off Sao Paulo. And so now the transition from the torrid and humid heat of Brazil to this cold which is beginning to set in. We go from the Brazilian summer to autumn, and this coldness sets in, and it will very quickly affect the atmosphere of the boat. I already have two base layers on. There is a little mist inside and passing Saint Helena takes us towards the big south, towards the most majestic seas in the world, a land which does not belong to Man. A no man’s land.”

Recalling his efforts yesterday he explained, “It was a key moment in the race and means I can stick with the two ahead. I had to work hard yesterday to get here. I managed 800 miles in one day, but that was what was required. Otherwise, I would have been left behind. The boat was flying and the speed steady at 35 knots over a long period. You just have to hold on. You steer on the edge of the foils. It wasn’t as hard as that. I thought it would be tougher, but once the boat is set up correctly, she is fast. Occasionally, the water streams inside.”

Coville, who yesterday had two periods making 770 nautical miles over 24 hours, said “ Anyway here we go, into an area where man is tolerated, but it’s a huge desert really with just a few islands along the way. Islands where scientists are the only inhabitants. We are downwind and there’s no turning back. You can climb back up to South Africa, but that would mark the end of the race. So this is the moment when you fully commit yourself. We’re here now in the Southern Ocean all the way to Cape Horn.”

From today’s Live
Armel Le Cléac’h: “We were able to repair the two problems, the pulpit and the hydraulic failure, I could no longer use the foil. Right now the wind is not very strong, the speeds are not fast, I should get some wind during tonight. The race is long, we’ve only done a week and a half, there are at least five weeks left, lots of things can happen. The weather is not favorable for us to get back at them at the moment, it is heading me ahead, there will perhaps be opportunities to get back at them when I am in the Southern Ocean meantime I will try to catch up with Anthony who is not very far ahead.

François Gabart: “This is a race all the way around the world and there’s so much left to do. All it takes is for the weather to slow the leading guys down so that Armel can get back on track. You never want to, but it’s better to stop early than later. Meanwhile they are going fast because they are on the front of a front. It’s a leap into the void, there is a dynamic that draws them towards the big south. You can go there very quickly, in fabulous conditions like this. The winds can be stormy with big waves, but there are also great moments like this.”

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

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