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Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest day 41: The Routers Replay 6.0

by Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest 16 Feb 12:04 PST 17 February 2024

Every Friday we talk to the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest routers who work round the clock on-shore to provide the optimum routes to keep their respective skippers fast and safe. This week we have Christian Dumard who works with Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3) and David Lasnier, working with Éric Péron (ULTIM Adagio).

How is life for you guys on the land?

David Lasnier (ULTIM Adagio): "It's a great experience! On top of everything I am the meteo specialist for the French Olympic sailing teams. We are in full preparation for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in Marseille. I am probably more of a specialist in small scale micro weather, but this race is more dependent on the general weather and systems. Doing Eric's routing is enriching for me. It's a good experience, a good challenge and most of all it is the pleasure of sharing a great human adventure with him. I'm working alone, but it's all about organization. You have to anticipate key moments, warn Eric at the right time, in a context which means that there is space and time on the water, so it is manageable. His ambitions are to finish the race, but like me he also comes from Olympic sailing, so we like to be at the front. In this ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest where the boats have different potential, we do all we can with the boat that Eric has in concert with his experience. The challenges are to finish in good shape and safety, which determines our routing. But there are sequences, things that should not be missed, and these times are stimulating and exciting.

Christian Dumard (Actual Ultim 3): "It's great! Every day has its share of surprises. Anthony is keeping on top of it all right now, he's had a lot of problems, but he doesn't let that get him down. He repairs things as soon as he can. There is wear and tear on everyone's equipment, from being exposed to the impact of the waves. Boats that have not travelled around the world do not experience the wear and tear built up over such a race.

Last Week in Review

David Lasnier: "There was a key moment, near Tasmania. A big depression between Tasmania and New Zealand was forecast, with a corridor of accelerating northerly wind. This is a common local phenomenon. We asked ourselves the question of whether we should pass in front of it or if we would stop to let it pass, or if we would consider another route. We were 5 to 7 hours ahead of the system. In the end we went for it, but these decisions are not easy because once you get into it, you can't turn back. We had noted the possibility of taking shelter in the lee of two small New Zealand islands in case we were behind in terms of the boat's predicted performance. In the end, we arrived five hours early. This moment was important for what was to follow: it allowed us to take advantage of a sequence likely to push Éric and Adagio as far as Cape Horn. If we had not made it we would have lost one or two days. Before we really push in a phase I always ask him whether the boat is safe and whether he is safe. I see the speeds in relation to the boat's potential, I push it when I need to keep the weather sequences favorable, to avoid being in a moment of underperformance which would cause a sequence to be missed. Boat speed limits are 35-40 knots; when we push, we are around 30 knots, because Eric is all alone, isolated in the Pacific, and he also has to sleep to stay on top of things. With no foils on Adagio it is still racing in the water. It's less comfortable, you have to be careful not to push too far in, not to go too far forward... It's a boat that requires concentration and safety.

Christian Dumard: "The week was not easy. Before getting New Zealand, Anthony had effectively lost his two foils, one immobilized in the high and permanent position. How do we manage routing? When he only had one foil, we made asymmetrical polars (the polars are a refined estimate of the boat's target speeds at a given speed, editor's note), which is now possible with routing software. When he lost the use of the second, we returned to symmetry. After a few hours of sailing we see the real speed potential. Anthony must manage a handicap against Adagio, who has small foils.

The Week Ahead

Christian Dumard: "Currently, Actual Ultim 3 is sailing at reduced speed to allow a depression to pass, which should allow Antho to avoid crossing Cape Horn upwind in strong winds and very rough seas. After that we consider different scenarios. It shouldn't be too bad at the start, then there should be some upwind on the way back to Rio de Janeiro, where Antho won't go very quickly due to lack of foils. It's another way of sailing, slower but more dangerous: the boat is now more sensitive to the sea.

David Lasnier: "Cape Horn is one of the key goals. Anthony (Marchand) is not at his maximum potential so we are now closer to his boat's present performance because of his technical setbacks (he is deprived of both foils, editor's note). He can't go too fast. He follows a depression and at times is upwind at averages of 15-20 knots. Correspondingly we are making 24 hour runs averaging 20-25 knots per day so we might get back 200 or 300 miles on him by Cape Horn. I'm talking about 5 or 6 day forecast routings, which are not that reliable. All it takes is a change in timing for us to change our pace. For now, he is 800 miles ahead, but we must not do anything.

Your views on the rest of the Race?

Christian Dumard: "What we have difficulty bringing out is the size of these boats. They have the capacity to move very quickly, but they are also vulnerable, so much so that we accept letting a weather system pass. These boats suffer less than slower boats, but sometimes they have to push hard. The rule generally is the faster we are, the more control we have over our destiny. Edmond de Rothschild and Charles Caudrelier are having a great race. The best start was that of Tom Laperche, who had incredible race management until his damage. In terms of going the distance, it's Charles, who perhaps hasn't really experienced any major damage. The Gitana team already made half of a Jules-Verne; they definitely learned that parts had to be made more reliable or reinforced. We are seeing the results of that."

David Lasnier: "My hat is off to Charles! He is super experienced, handles his boat really well and he and his team know how to optimize weather situations making few errors. I congratulate him on his sequences and hope that it all goes well until the finish. His trajectories are very optimized. Behind him, there is the second race, the one between the pairs of boats which are having problems. There is not much to compare between those who had technical problems and those who did not, with the exception of his slowing at Cape Horn. But what I find great is that this race is not a quest for records. This is all about managing the boat and the skipper safely. These super-fast boats may not always get ahead of systems and sometimes they have to slow down to continue their passage. It's all fabulous."

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