Seeking trade winds in Brest Atlantiques

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(November 24, 2019; Day 20) – With just over 4,000 miles to go to the finish of the 14,000nm Brest Atlantiques race, the Ultim 32/23 Class trimarans continue their northward progress up the middle of the South Atlantic. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Franck Cammas/Charles Caudrelier) continues to extend their lead as the unstable conditions are giving all the crews a lot of tiring maneuvers to manage.

Since Cammas and Caudrelier crossed the Robben Island course mark off Cape Town four days ago, they have worked hard to build an advantage. After twelve gybes along the African coastline to round the St Helena High to the east and a further eight more north of the high to carry out what meteorologists call a “seagull’s wing” so as to hook onto the trade wind from the southern hemisphere.

The trade wind conditions continue to be unstable, particularly in the middle of the South Atlantic, despite Maxi Edmond de Rothschild being able to follow a relatively direct optimum course, heading north-west with average speeds of 30 knots.

As result Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has been able to extend their lead on Actual Leader (Yves Le Blevec/Alex Pella) and the trimaran MACIF (François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet) who on the 16:00 rankings trail 188 and 253 miles respectively. All three will be concentrating on the most optimum route across the Equator and where best to enter the Doldrums, positioned now further East then they were on their descent of the Atlantic.

“They will not have to necessarily make a big detour west and there is a possible route close to Cape Verde,” explains Christian Dumard, the race weather consultant.

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
• Trimaran Macif: François Gabart/Gwénolé Gahinet
• Sodebo Ultim 3: Thomas Coville/Jean-Luc Nélias

Source: sailingscuttlebutt

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