At the equator in the Brest Atlantiques

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(November 28, 2019; Day 24) – After crossing the equator last night, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is now making its way across the Doldrums in the final leg of the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques. While they have a comfortable lead over the two other Ultim 32/23 Class trimarans, the decision by MACIF (François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet) to head west has proved to be a very good strategy, and they are now closing in on Actual Leader (Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella) at a fast pace.

Seventeen and a half days after leaving the Northern Hemisphere, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild re-entered it last night at 2:13am, in the lead as they have been since the evening of November 14. Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, who yesterday at 3pm clocked a total of 2795 miles since leaving Brest, were quick to start their journey across the Doldrums, which, despite the cloudy conditions and lack of wind, shouldn’t slow them down too much.

With a lead of almost 500 miles over Actual Leader and 800 miles over MACIF, the two skippers aboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild are right on track. After crossing the Doldrums, they will turn their attention to the weather conditions in the North Atlantic, and in particular the Azores High, whose positioning will determine how quickly they can return back to Brest. If all goes well, they are currently scheduled to arrive at the end of next week.

MACIF, who spent around four hours last night sailing at a slow pace in very light winds, has since been picking up speed, with an average of 28.8 knots between the 12pm and 4pm rankings. This is exactly what the skippers were expecting.

“We’re once again faced with fairly shifty trade winds, that will be getting stronger in the coming hours,” reports Gabart. “We’re happy to be in this position, but we now have to accelerate northwards to try and catch up. Actual Leader are in front of us at 45 degrees, and still have to tack to get in a good position for the Doldrums. In the coming hours, we should be able gain a lot of ground on them.”

The fact that the Doldrums are lighter to the west could equally benefit the two skippers of MACIF, compared to Actual Leader who are located further east, and boost their morale before they attack the final stretch of the Brest Atlantiques.

DNF: Thomas Coville and Jean-Luc Nélias retired on November 22 while in Cape Town when it was determined that the damages to Sodebo Ultim 3 were too serious to carry on safely. Details.

The race sends these doublehanded speedsters on a course from Brest that will turn at Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Cape Town (South Africa) before returning to Brest. The Ultim Class is for trimarans with a maximum length of 32 meters and a maximum width of 23 meters.

The turning marks will see the boats leave to port the chain of Cagarras Islands, in front of the famous Ipanema beach in the Bay of Rio and Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

It is an unprecedented course, lined with several weather traps, especially along The Cape, a route almost never taken in offshore racing.

Each entry will be skippered by four fantastic pairs and accompanied by a media man who is not allowed to take an active role in the performance of the boat. The teams are:

• Actual Leader: Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella
• Maxi Edmond de Rothschild: Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier
• MACIF: François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet
• Sodebo Ultim 3: Thomas Coville/Jean-Luc Nélias

Source: BREST ULTIM SAILING, sailingscuttlebutt

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