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Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) passes Cape Horn in Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest

by Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest 6 Feb 11:51 PST 6 February 2024

Long time leader of the ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest solo multihull race around the world, French skipper Charles Caudrelier on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is first to pass Cape Horn. He passed the famous landmark at 17:08:20hrs UTC this Tuesday.

His elapsed time for the passage from the race start is 30d 4hrs 38m and 20secs. The French racer has now led the race at all three of the course's Great Capes and now attacks the 7000 miles ascent of the Atlantic back to Brest.

Because of a big storm at Cape Horn over the weekend, Caudrelier had to put his race on hold, going very slowly for some 48 hours to avoid the heinous weather system. He sped up again on Sunday evening to head east again and arrive at Cape Horn this Tuesday evening.

Video from on board Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (in French):

The passage of Cape Horn represents an important moment of deliverance for generations of sailors. Caudrelier's prudence was rewarded with moderate to fresh N'ly winds which allowed him to pass at around 20-30kts of boat speed this evening.

Second placed Armel Le Cléac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) and third placed Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3, 3rd) are expected at Cape Horn this weekend.

Tuesday interview Armel Le Cléac'h, "The noise really wears you down"

Today's in depth catch up is with Armel Le Cléac'h, currently in second place. The skipper of the Maxi Banque Populaire Since has had a slightly atypical routing north of New Zealand to avoid a malicious low pressure to his south. Armel is back en route due east with Cape Horn as his next target. Affable and smiling, the sailor reconnects several times during the interview this morning, to finish his sentences and expand on his remarks. He retains a certain sense of good manners, humour and a desire to do the job to his fullest ability even after 30 days at sea.

Before reviewing your week's racing, what is your prevailing feeling as you finally head due east towards Cape Horn?

"It's positive of course and it's definitely a change from the last few days when we were in a different atmosphere really just trying to find the safest route possible. Now we are back in slightly more classic conditions and in full racing mode. This is what we came looking for, being at the front of a depression which allows us to go to the East. Conditions should get tougher in the next few hours and then we should arrive at Cape Horn within four and a half days.

Have you been worried during these last few days?

No, it wasn't scary but it was very physically involved and it took its toll on the body. I was pushed to my limits in terms of management of my efforts and the fatigue. In addition, there were complicated parts to pass, a lot of maneuvers and it was a bit like a time trial: you could not hang around so as not to be caught up by bad weather and the sea.

We often talk about the wind strength, but not as much about the sea state and how that affects the Ultim boats... The sea state can vary a lot depending on the direction of the swell and the wind... It is everything grouped together that has a real influence: sometimes you have 4-5 metres and you cut through it, but sometimes it is very bumpy. I saw that off Tasmania and as I left New Zealand, when the boat found it hard to cut through each wave. It is very uncomfortable for the boat and the sailor. Now, the seas have eased with a longer well. It is smoother and even if there are still 3-4 m high waves, you don't feel them.

How do you feel about being in second place in spite of your extended route?

It is true that the scenario doesn't match what we were expecting. We are almost two-thirds of the way through the course and I think I have covered more miles what with the detour in the Southern Ocean and then around New Zealand. I had to sail a long way to get here, but there was no other solution. I hope the climb back up the Atlantic will be more in line with what we usually see."

Thomas Coville said yesterday that he still believed he could win. Is that what you think too?

No, not at all. My first goal is to finish the race and there's a long way to go. We had a stopover with repair work to do aboard the boat, wear and tear... The gap to Charles (2800 miles) is beyond reach, unless there is some incredible scenario or a forced stop, which is not something I would wish upon him. He is not just anyone. His boat is not just any old boat. Charles knows how to manage his race and I don't have any doubts about that. We are focusing on our own race."

"Getting back to civilisation"

You have been out there for a month... Are you starting to get tired or bored, or are you exhausted, or are you taking it in your stride?

No, even if I don't feel as lively as at the start! There are bound to be ups and downs and times when you feel really tired. But I have the right pace aboard and the routine is well established, so time is slipping by. We are far from or friends and family now, but we're on our way home. We have passed the International Date Line and have gone from east to west, so the next important step is Cape Horn. Rounding it on a multihull is something I have been looking forward to.

Are there times when you can sit back and enjoy yourself?

Yes, but it doesn't happen often. I saw some great landscapes passing Australia. I gybed 2 or 3 miles from a quite magnificent beach. Even if I rounded New Zealand by night, I managed to see the islands at dawn. There was some shipping and cruise ships. We got back into civilisation. In the end, you always notice that the presence of humans is very rare given the huge size of the ocean.

Are you missing anything after thirty days at sea?

I think I only have three grapefruits left. Apart from the fruit, there's nothing I can complain about. I have plenty to eat and wear. What I am really missing is some peace and quiet. On board the boat, there is constant noise. You get used to it, but it really wears you down too."

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