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Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest day 34 morning update

by Andi Robertson 9 Feb 08:18 GMT 9 February 2024

In fifth place on the ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest Éric Péron, racing the non foiling Adagio Ultim was just about to cross Cape Leeuwin this Friday morning at around 0730hrs. At the other end of the race course, climbing north in the South Atlantic Charles Caudrelier is making modest speeds on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

Péron progressed at a good pace all night. He is well positioned ahead of a front and so has maintained averages of more than 28 knots, and so making quick work of the second of his three Great Capes. On a quite northerly route pointing more towards New Zealand, Anthony Marchand advances at solid speeds considering that depression ahead of him has left him some nasty, unruly seas.

There is nothing to choose in terms of boat speed between Thomas Coville and Armel le Cléac'h, both actually sailing exactly the same mileage over the 24 hours to 0630hrs UTC this morning, 760 nautical miles. The duo are advancing at good speed towards Cape Horn, in a north-westerly wind flow which will be with them until they exit the southern oceans over the weekend.

Then it will get tougher, requiring them to negotiate light upwind conditions at first, before getting into much tougher conditions downwind. This will be worse for Thomas Coville, who looks set to get into a large depression which will come from the west, forecast to bring 50 knot gusts and big seas. And there is still ice, being monitored 20 miles east of Staten Island. Race management do not plan to restrict the route of the two skippers in light of this incoming depression.

"We will not close the door," confirms Assistant Race Director Guillaume Evrard. "When Thomas goes up the Le Maire Strait, he risks being affected by the venturi effect generated by the land mass and so he needs options."

Leader Charles Caudrelier also has a routing puzzle to solve. As he climbs north the skipper of Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had a huge anticyclonic zone as forming to his west, between him and the continent. For a long time the question was whether the leader was going to try his luck in the eastern South Atlantic or whether he was going to stay much closer to the coast where the wind is better but largely upwind.

His course in recent hours seems to confirm his intention to take the more painful upwind option, closer to the land which will surely put beyond doubt any hopes of a solo round the world record as in 2017 Francois Gabart had a dream weather sequence from the Horn to the finish line.

Clearly, for the moment, Caudrelier has had the best of his luck on the first two thirds of the course.

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