Brest Atlantiques in the northern latitudes

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(November 29, 2019; Day 25) – At 10:02am today, Actual Leader crossed the equator, which means that all three Ultim 32/23 Class trimarans racing in the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques are now sailing in the Northern Hemisphere, with Maxi Edmond de Rothschild more than a day ahead of its two rivals.

For the six skippers, one of the priorities towards the end of the race is to preserve their trimarans which have been tested to varying degrees since the start in Brest on November 5.

Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier) was the first to re-enter the Northern Hemisphere at 2:13 am yesterday, with MACIF (François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet) and Actual Leader (Yves Le Blévec/Alex Pella) both crossing the equator this morning, at 7:30am and 11:02am respectively, after exactly 24 days and 2 minutes at sea.

As was to be expected, given the respective speeds of the trimarans since yesterday morning, MACIF managed to overtake Actual Leader in the middle of the night. “I think we played the right strategy,” noted Gabart. “On starting out, we were a little behind Actual Leader, and now we’re back just ahead, so we’re pretty happy. It was the right option to take.”

Aboard Actual Leader, Yves Le Blevec has a slightly different take: “We were watching MACIF from the corner of our eye, and yes, they took a radically different option, but at the end of the day, we’re all on a level playing field in terms of strategy.”

Following the action from a distance, Franck Cammas gives his opinion: “I think it was a success for MACIF, who gained a hundred miles on Actual Leader. It proves that it was an interesting option to take, even if it wasn’t the simplest.”

That said, these two trimarans are still very close to each other as they attack the Doldrums, which Maxi Edmond de Rothschild passed through very smoothly yesterday. It’s looking like it will be a close call all the way until Brest. Especially as at this stage of the race, the trimarans all have their own set of damages.

“We won’t hide the fact that we’ve had several problems that have slowed us down considerably,” shared Gabart. “For example the drift before Rio, but right now, we’re sailing at almost 95% of the boat’s capacity, which is great for us!”

As for Actual Leader, Yves Le Blevec seems pretty satisfied with the state of their trimaran after 24 days at sea: “We have nothing major that is slowing us down, the boat’s potential is intact, just as it was when we left Brest more than three weeks ago.”

Finally, for Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, who at 3pm today had a solid lead of 544 and 620 miles over its rivals respectively, the priority is to preserve the boat: “Our main concern is to sail through safe areas only and not overwork the boat; we’re not in 100% attacking mode when changing our sails. Our strategy now is to reach the Azores as quickly as possible, to get ahead of a front and catch a southerly wind to take us to Brest. We hope it will be plain sailing from then on in winds of around 20-25 knots. That would be the ideal scenario.”

A scenario that would mean Maxi Edmond de Rothschild arriving in Brest on the morning of December 4, after about 29 days of racing…

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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