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French skipper Charles Caudrelier wins the first Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest solo multihull race

by Arkéa Ultim Challenge-Brest 27 Feb 00:39 PST 27 February 2024

French solo racer Charles Caudrelier, skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild crossed the finish line off the coast of Brest, this Tuesday morning at 8h 37mn 42s local time (UTC+1hrs) to win the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest, the first ever solo multihull race around the world, sailed in giant 32m long ULTIM class trimarans.

The race leader who has been unchallenged at the front of the race since the night of January 17, Caudrelier- triumphs on the first edition of this unprecedented race. Before he had to slow to avoid a huge storm at Cape Horn, at one point in the Pacific Ocean Caudrelier was ahead of the time needed to set a new all time record for sailing solo round the world.

His elapsed time is 50 days 19 hours 07 minutes 47 seconds since leaving Brest in the six boat fleet on Sunday 7th January.

After a thrilling head to head duel with 26 year old Tom Laperche down the South Atlantic, Caudrelier, who turned 50 years old on Monday, widened the gap to over 2500 miles ahead of his nearest rival after Laperche had to retire into Cape Town with damage caused by a collision.

Along his route, Caudrelier set a new record for the Indian Ocean and then proved he knew how to moderate his pace to look after his high tech flying ULTIM and give himself and the emblematic Gitana team the best chance of completing the 24,260 nautical miles course.

With a substantial lead Caudrelier put his race on hold - sailing at very slow speeds for more than 36 hours in the eastern Pacific - to avoid a storm at Cape Horn and latterly sat out storm Louis, stopped in the safety of the Azores last week to avoid any additional risk which might have jeopardised his win.

This success rewards more than ten years of endeavour by the Edmond de Rothschild Gitana team. They worked initially from 2011 with a MOD70 on which they developed the multihull foiling program before they launched the innovative Verdier designed Ultim in 2017.

Arriving two years later along with co-skipper Franck Cammas, Caudrlier, double winner of The Ocean Race -once as skipper, contributed to the boat's continued evolution and optimisation and the boat built up the most extensive track record of the class with some great victories with Caudrelier including the Brest Atlantique (2019), Fastnet (2019 and 2021), Transat Jacques Vabre (2021), Finistère Atlantique (2022) and blue riband solo Route du Rhum (2022).

After a frustrating Transat Jacques Vabre last autumn which was marked by numerous damages including problems with the steering system and a foil, finishing in third place, the Gitana team worked hard to repair to be ready for this race and to move forward.

"I've had my struggles but I know that things are turning round," said Caudrelier before the start of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest.

From the early days on this race he had to deal with small problems too including a break in his forward fairing. Although he succeeded in capturing a dream ride on a low pressure from the South Atlantic until the south of Australia, the second half of his race was much more problematic, including his pause before Cape Horn and his strategic halt into the Azores last week.

A popular, highly respected racer and leader among his peers, this is Caudrelier's biggest solo success and finally fulfils his youthful dreams of winning a singlehanded race around the world. Added to his Ocean Race wins he further establishes himself as one of the best skippers among the French greats.

Charles Caudrelier's victory in figures:

  • Finish time: 8 h 37 min 42 sec
  • Race time: 50 days 19 hours 7 min 42 sec
  • Miles traveled: 28 938,03 miles
  • Actual average speed: 23,74 knots
  • Average speed on the great circle: 19,93 knots

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