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Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest 63: Yves Le Blevec: "Antho has shown incredible commitment"

by Andi Robertson 9 Mar 11:28 PST 9 March 2024

The Big Saturday Interview

For a good few days now the pleasures that Yves Le Blevec has enjoyed in running routes for Anthony Marchand have been heightened all the more as the finish line of the ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest is the final point on each and every route. And for solo skipper Antho' the end of his first ever solo round the world race is getting closer and closer. For team owner and manager Le Blevec there is already a great level of satisfaction.

Yves, how do you describe Anthony Marchand's racing over the last week?

We've been doing routings with Brest as our destination for a week. And that in itself is very satisfying. And now we just have to get the right timing to manage the low pressure system centered between the Azores and the Bay of Biscay as it will generate a lot of sea and a big wind. If he passes all that without any problems he will be straight in to Brest.

How does this translate to an ETA?

If we stick with the timings and he doesn't end up with any slow downs, he could arrive Monday evening. If he is forced to tack, 'Antho' will have to go slower and would then arrive Tuesday morning, that's the wee bit of unknown.

"No one comes out of this race unaffected."

Since the Indian Ocean he has been sailing on a foiler, without a foil. That's a bit of an achievement in itself?

He will not think of it as a success, an achievement in itself but just of a hard job done! When you know the behaviour of a boat with a foil and the new performance dimensions that they give you, sailing without foils is a penance, it is like going back in time, it's a punishment. The boat is heavy, clumsy, uncomfortable, which is such a sharp contrast with its performance when it's flying. But for all that getting around the world on an Ultim, with or without a foil, is an achievement. Antho' has been at sea for 65 days, alone, on an extraordinary boat. It's difficult to find the words to describe his adventure.

Did he reach his limits during this round the world?

To find out, you will have to take the time to analyze the race afterwards. But today, he is doing well, he is in good spirits. It will be interesting to discuss his sensations, his perception of the round the world race once he has digested it physically and mentally. But what is certain is that he has shown incredible commitment. No one comes out of this race unaffected."

There must be great pride in running an Ultim team which has gone all the way?

The damage in South Africa cost us a lot, then the starboard foil problem. We did not have the means to do much more during the technical stopover in New Zealand. Other than that, the boat is in perfect condition, which shows the significant work of the whole Actual team.

What does the future look like for the team?

In the spring, we will enjoy using the boat, return it to La Trinité-sur-Mer, do a few weeks of work on it and participate in a few small local regattas. The starboard foil was brought back by the SVR-Lazartigue team, we hope to be able to fit it back in mid-May. So this summer we will work up to having a boat at 100% of its potential at the beginning of September in order to participate in the races then.

More generally, what conclusions do you draw about this first edition of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest?

It's the race of superlatives. Anyone who knows ocean racing knows what an achievement it is for the six boats that took part. Perhaps what we need to work on is to explain more to show how colossal the challenge for the skippers and teams is. We all have difficulty communicating our problems and perhaps talking about them a little more can allow more uninitiated people to understand what sailors experience.

And the race is valuable to the Ultim class?

For a class to hold a place on the ocean racing landscape, it must have a flagship and essential event. The IMOCAs have the Vendée Globe, the Figaro the Solitaire, the Mini the Mini-Transat. The emblematic race of the Ultims is the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest. We have five boats out of six at the finish. Yes, absolutely we see that the boats have not reached 100% of their potential. There is work to do but that is sports work. What we know is that this race has validated the class, it is essential."

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