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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest day 50: Thomas Coville reflects before his final big charge

by Arkéa Ultim Challenge-Brest 25 Feb 12:09 PST 25 February 2024

In second place on ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest solo multihull round the world race, Thomas Coville is working west of the Azores high pressure system, and has just under 1500 miles to the finish line in Brest. When he crosses, forecast to be Thursday or Friday, the 55 year old former round the world solo record holder should complete his ninth circumnavigation of the planet.

Climbing north west in stable breeze at boat speeds in the mid 20s, during what should be his last Saturday night at sea, Coville took time, to reflect on some the key influences on his remarkable career, the race, how he is feeling and has some advice for the next generation.

He recalled, "I have just finished writing with Dominic Vittet, one of the routers who has worked with me since the beginning. As is often the case with him, we digress off topic. We talked about the 90s, the completely crazy years, those formative times which influenced why I am here. Meetings with Jacques Vincent, who is in the Pacific, whom I idolized and who is the big brother that I would have liked to have had. There was the Primagaz era with Laurent Bourgnon and his two acolytes: z'Olive, (Olivier Wroczinski) and Martial Salvan, who is still with me. That was truly another world.

" Sometimes, I went to work for Etienne Jaouen in the winter, and I started again with Primagaz, with the Tours of Europe and the crazy days. I was the junior. From time to time, Jean Troillet or Mike Horn would show up and tell us their stories. While we were listening to them we told ourselves that what we all did was completely normal. These people transformed my life; These encounters turned my life 180 degrees from where I was heading towards.

"This full moon has made me think of those crazy years, the 90s that brought me here. We had no ties, no children, we were able to leave with an overnight bag This is not a nostalgia trip, it's a quiet moment where I think about all these encounters and why I'm here today, in the middle of the Atlantic on an incredible boat.

"And in essence this is a reminder to our younger generation. A quiet word... All of this is a little let your intuition speak. Trust it. Let your encounters happen, take the trips that will shape you. Life itself has a lot more imagination than you do. I never would have imagined sailing around the world; I never would have imagined myself being on a racing flying boat."

The race

"Charles has left the Azores. It's a funny race when the leader has the opportunity to go to a hotel while waiting for a good window to finish and, like a good sailor, leave at just the right time. Watch your ass man, because what's up front is nasty. But I know Charles will manage it well. They have managed it all really well. Really well done.

"For me the next four days will be decisive to finish in a not too tough window, hopefully one a bit like the one that Charles has intelligently chosen. We have to slip between these depressions which are nasty. I guess these are my last calm moments of this round the world."

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