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Noble Marine 2022 YY - LEADERBOARD

Offshore accomplishments in the Global Solo Challenge and the Arkéa Ultim Challenge

by David Schmidt 27 Feb 18:00 GMT February 27, 2024
Philippe Delamare - Mowgli © Global Solo Challenge

Back in January, I wrote about 2024 having an embarrassment of riches, and the first of these dividends have arrived, courtesy of the Global Solo Challenge and the Arkéa Ultim Challenge.

In the former, skipper Phillipe Delamare (FRA), sailing alone aboard Mowgli, his Actual 46, crossed the finishing line off of A Coruña, Spain, on Saturday at 1503 hours, local time. In the latter, skipper Charles Caudrelier (FRA), sailing alone aboard Ultim Maxi Edmond de Rothschild finished today, Tuesday, at 0803 hours, local time.

Both of these offshore feats are wildly impressive.

For Delamare, his non-stop circumnavigation took 147 days, 1 hour, 3 minutes, and 37 seconds. To help frame this, Delamare began racing on September 30 at 1300 hours, local time. (N.B. the Global Solo Challenge employs a rolling start and a pursuit-style format, with the tortoises starting before the hares.)

If the still-raging conflict in the Middle East seems like a never-ending news cycle, Delamare began racing a full week before violence erupted on October 7.

According to reports, Delamare arrived at the finishing line with a battered Mowgli, her boom broken and her halyards a mess. But the talented French skipper coaxed his battle-exhausted steed across the finishing line before lighting off two celebratory red flares.

A glance at the Global Solo Challenge leaderboard reveals that Cole Brauer (USA) should be the next boat home. Brauer, who is sailing alone aboard her Class 40 First Light, began racing on October 29, and while hers is the faster sled, this month-long lead time allowed Delamare to hook into different weather systems to create and nurture an insurmountable lead.

As of this writing, Brauer and First Light have about 1,720 nautical miles separating the skipper from her first stationary horizon in months. But, at 8.1 knots (her current speed), this equates to almost nine more days of sailing.

In comparison, Caudrelier's circumnavigation aboard Maxi Edmond de Rothschild proved to be a much faster affair. All six of the competing Ultims began this non-stop-around-the-world challenge on January 7, but, within a few short weeks, Caudrelier was entire oceans ahead of some of his competitors.

To be fair, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild employs hydrofoils, while some of the "slower" boats (if a 105' trimaran can be called "slow") only operate in displacement mode. However, there's no question that Caudrelier has thrown down a master class in ocean racing.

This included a forced slowdown in the vicinity of Point Nemo to allow a nasty weather system to move past Cape Horn, as well as a multi-day stop in the Azores to allow a different weather system to blow through.

According to reports, Caudrelier has been nursing some damage to his steed since the race's early days, but the bold French sailor has managed to hold man and machine together and has made history for one of the fastest-ever recorded solo circumnavigations.

(N.B. the current record, set by François Gabart aboard the Ultim trimaran Macif in 2017, is a mere 42 days, 16 hours, 40 minutes, and 35 seconds, however this was set during a stand-alone around-the-world record attempt, not a race. This latter point matters, as it allowed Gabart to pick his departure weather, a luxury not afforded to the six skippers competing in the Arkéa Ultim Challenge.)

No doubt there will be a massive and well-earned celebration for Caudrelier, who marked his 50th birthday this past Sunday, which happened to also coincide with his 50th day at sea on this grueling race.

According to the race's leaderboard, skipper Thomas Coville, sailing aboard Sodebo Ultim 3, is some 1,450 nautical miles astern of Caudrelier, while skipper Armel Le Cleach, who is sailing aboard Maxi Banque Populaire XI, is around 640 nautical miles astern of Coville.

Meanwhile, in other sailing news, last weekend marked SailGP's Sydney event, which was the foiling circuit's eighth event (out of a 13-event season) of its fourth season.

Fittingly, skipper Tom Slingsby and his Australia SailGP Team took top honors, marking the team's first win of the season. They were joined on the winner's podium by ROCKWOOL Denmark and the New Zealand SailGP Team, the latter of whom was guest-helmed by Nathan Outteridge, as Peter Burling, the team's usual driver, was away on paternity leave.

The American-flagged team, which is now under the new leadership of Ryan and Margaret McKillen and Mike Buckley, and which is now helmed by Taylor Canfield, finished the event in ninth place out of ten boats.

"There is plenty more to come out of this team," said Canfield in an official team communication. "I am looking forward to growing and developing personally and together as a team. We all believe there is more to come and are focused on doing the work to make it happen."

As of this writing, Australia is topping SailGP's Season 4's leaderboard, followed by the Kiwis, and the Danes. The U.S. team is currently sitting in seventh place overall, while the Canadian-flagged team is one place astern of their south-of-the-border counterparts.

Finally, in Olympic sailing news, Erika Reineke and Ford McCann won their respective classes at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, which recently wrapped up in Miami, and will be representing the USA in the Laser Radial (ILCA 6) and Laser (ILCA 7) classes at this summer's Olympic Games. (Remember 2024's embarrassment of riches?).

"It's been a 15-year journey trying to make the Olympics," Reineke said in an official team communication. "I'm 30 now and I started pursuing this path when I was 15 - it's been a long road. I've been tested every Games cycle, and to finally succeed feels amazing. There's a lot of work to be done for Paris and I'm honored to represent the USA on the Olympic stage."

While there's no question that a heck of a lot of hard work needs to happen before these sailors head to Paris (N.B. the USA hasn't won an Olympic medal in the Laser class since 2008), there's also no question that they beat out some talented rivals at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Sail-World wishes both athletes good luck as they progress towards their Olympic dreams.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

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