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New Solo Indian Ocean Record, Cape Horn roundings, ILCA 7 Worlds

by David Schmidt 30 Jan 16:00 GMT January 30, 2024
Arkea Ultim Challenge-Brest: The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild © Charles Caudrelier / GITANA SA

January in the Pacific Northwest is usually a time for making summer sailing plans and going skiing. While we've been pondering our summer sailing, this year's El Nino cycle has led to warm spells and big melt-offs at the ski hills. Normally, this is cause for fingerpicking the blues, but I've found myself so engrossed with the various offshore events unfurling around the globe that that my lack of powder turns hasn't seemed so bad.

Take, for example, skipper Charles Caudrelier's new solo passage record of just 8 days, 8 hours 20 minutes and 36 seconds to cross the Indian Ocean from South Africa's Cape Agulhas to the longitude of Tasmania, Australia.

That's an average pace of 30.7 knots.

While this is a new record represents an improvement of 3 hours and 57 minutes for a crossing of this swath of saline, it's made even more impressive by the fact that Caudrelier is racing in the Arkea Ultim Challenge, which employed a fixed start date of January 7, 2024, rather than in a Jules Verne attempt, where skippers can pick and choose their own start dates and, vis-à-vis, their initial weather patterns.

As the saying goes, luck is the confluence of preparation an opportunity, and there's zero question that Caudrelier, 49 and a two-time Volvo Ocean Race winner (and one-time winning skipper), has been preparing for decades for this ongoing tour de force that he's playing out aboard his 105' trimaran, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

As of this writing (Monday morning, U.S. West Coast time), Caudrelier enjoys a lead of 2,532 nautical miles over Thomas Colville, who is sailing alone aboard the 105' trimaran Sobebo.

Ponder that for a second.

A lead of more than 2,500 nautical miles, in a race that started at the same time on the same day, and that's contested aboard relatively evenly paced foiling trimarans?

That's like leading Transpac by more than the entire course.

Six skippers began the Arkea Ultim Challenge on January 7, and while the boats are crazy fast, they are fragile creatures that are almost as wide as they are long and that employ foils that are vulnerable to impacts.

Some skippers have had to make stops to repair damage, and skipper Tom Laperche, who was racing abord SVR-Lazartigue, has already retired due to damage. Likewise, slipper Eric Peron, racing aboard Adagio was forced to make repairs in Cape Town and now find himself a casual 6,605 miles astern of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

That's roughly a quarter of the globe.

As for Caudrelier, he and Maxi Edmond de Rothschild are rocketing towards Cape Horn at 31.2 knots.

Even more impressive, Caudrelier has passed a chunk of the fleet of singlehanded sailors who are racing in the Global Solo Challenge. This later race employed a rolling start that saw the first boats begin racing in August.

While it's crucial for journalists to maintain neutrality, I'll admit that I've taken an interest in American Cole Brauer's impressive Global Solo Challenge campaign. This can-do sailor from Maine was turned down for events like The Ocean Race due to her physical size (she reportedly stands at 5 feet no inches and weighs just 100 pounds) and instead plotted her own course through the Southern Ocean, where she is forging her name in cold saltwater.

I cheered for her on Friday morning (my time) when she and her Class 40 First Light rounded Cape Horn, and I'm rooting for her as she attempts to hunt down skipper Philippe Delamare (FRA), who is racing aboard Mowgli, his Actual 36, and who enjoys a lead of roughly 1,350 nautical miles.

American Ronnie Simpson, who is racing alone aboard Shipyard Brewing, his Open 50, also deserves a shout out. As of this writing, Simpson is sitting in third place, west of Cape Horn but east of Point Nemo, and sailing at over 9 knots.

It will be interesting to see how these three boats fare as they start climbing up the ladders of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sail-World wishes all skippers racing in both the Arkea Ultim Challenge and the Global Solo Challenge good luck and safe sailing as they ply the miles towards their respective finishing lines.

Meanwhile, switching from round-the-world racing to dinghies, the ILCA 7 World Championship (read: Laser Worlds to those of a certain age; January 24-31) are unfurling on the waters of the St. Vincent Gulf, off of Adelaide, Australia, and are being hosted by the Adelaide Sailing Club.

As of this writing, Matt Wearn (AUS) is sitting in the pole position in the Gold Fleet, followed by Micheal Beckett (GBR) and Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR). Luke Ruitenberg (CAN) is currently the top North American entry in this fleet and is sitting in 38th place (out of 50 gold-fleet boats), while Ford McCann is currently the leading American entry and is sitting in 43rd place.

Finally, be sure to stay current with the website to get the latest news from the America's Cup, the iQFOIL Worlds, and the now-lengthened Newport-Bermuda Race.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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