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Arkéa Ultim Challenge - English language video from February 4, 2024

by Richard Gladwell/ 4 Feb 04:57 PST 23 January 2024
Armel Le Cléac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) © Juliette Leclercq

Latest update World on Water Sailing World on Water from with English translation from French on the Arkéa Ultim Challenge, from February 4, 2024, as the race leader nears Cape Horn.

Charles Caudrellier in Edmund de Rothschild is speeding up to head around Cape Horn, with a lead of over 2700nm. In second Armel is North of New Zealand after travelling through Bass Straight between Australia's mainland and Tasmania. Thomas Coville, (Sodebo Ultim 3,) is pit-stopped in Hobart in third place. In fourth, Anthony Marchand, (Actual Ultim), is 1600 miles from Cape Lewin and making modest progress in a complicated weather system. Adagio, (Éric Péron), is 700 miles or so north west of the Kerguelens and making good miles.

To get the latest positional update and English version of the tracker You may have to click on the Live Mapping icon at the bottom left hand corner of the screen, and on the active link in the top right corner of that icon. Then click on the wind icon on the right hand side of the screen, this should bring up a graphic overlay which will show the wind strength and direction in the area of the race yachts.

The Arkéa Ultim Challenge is a non-stop single handed around the world yacht race which started from Brest, France on January 7, 2024. Six competitors are sailing the 105ft Ultim class foiling trimarans.

Competitor profiles and experience

  • Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3) is a relative newcomer to the ULTIM class and solo ocean racing although has a long and distinguished history offshore one design solo racing on La Solitaire de Figaro. The 38 year old took over the helm of Actual Ultim 3 in the winter of 2022 and has worked hard to build miles with the VPLP design which actually holds the course record, set in 2017 in the hands of Francois Gabart. The boat has been updated with new foils, rudders and daggerboard and is smallest and lighter than the most recent boats.

  • Armel Le Cléac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) has just won the double handed Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Martinique racing with Seb Josse. Le Cléac'h has a long but chequered history racing multihulls and the TJV was 46 year old Le Cléac'h's first multihull win. Having raced the Vendée Globe three times, winning in 2016 and finishing second in 2012 and 2008, the Southern Ocean is well known to Le Cleac'h who is an extremely focused perfectionist who has also now won La Solitaire du Figaro three times. Recent modifications showed his 2021 launched VPLP designed Banque Populaire to have a speed edge downwind in certain conditions.

  • Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) has twice won the fully crewed race round the world The Ocean Race, once as skipper and until this season was unbeaten with Maxi Edmond de Rothschild winning the 2022 Route du Rum as well the 2021 Transat Jacques Vabre. The Gitana team's ULTIM was designed by Guillaume Verdier and as the heaviest and most powerful allrounder in the fleet is especially quick flying upwind and good in strong winds.

  • Éric Péron (Adagio) is the last to qualify and enter for the race and sails the oldest boat in the event which was previously the 2015 launched Sodebo. Adagio is a non foiling ULTIM and Péron, 42, who has widespread experience in many different offshore and inshore classes - including race legs of the The Ocean Race and La Soltaire du Figaro is out to learn his personal limits. His objective is to finish and if he does there is a good chance of a podium finish.

  • Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3) has eight circumnavigations under his belt, five in multihulls. The 55 year old is the most experienced solo in big multihulls sailing round the world and after five attempts he set the solo multihull record at 49 days in 2016 finishing into Brest on Christmas Day. His Sodebo Ultim 3 was launched in March 2019 after the different key components of his boat were designed by different experts in their field. It was substantially updated for this season but has yet to reach the performance levels of the top three ULTIMs but Coville's mental tenacity and experience could prove key.

  • Tom Laperche (SVR Lazartigue) at 26yrs is the youngest skipper in the fleet and has been mentored and trained by Vendée Globe winner and solo round the world record holder François Gabart. He has many the same traits and skills as Gabart who won the Vendée Globe as the youngest skipper ever at 29 in 2013. Like Gabart Laperche is a talented engineer who is quick learner with a capacity to push hard. He won La Solitaire du Figaro in 2022 and has sailed as co-skipper with Gabart on SVR Lazartigue since the boat was launched. The VPLP design showed good speeds in the Transat Jacques Vabre although is said to be less easy to sail than Banque Populaire XI which comes from the same design house where both ULTIMs were designed by different teams within the same studio. Banque Populaire XI is a development of her predecessor Banque Populaire IX which capsized and was lost on the 2018 Route du Rhum when Le Cléac'h was rescued by helicopter, whilst SVR Lazartigue started with a blank sheet of paper. It features the central cockpit integrated low into the central hull which allows a lower centre of gravity, improved aerodynamics and the mainsail to skim the deck creating an 'end plate effect.

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