Offshore racing

Arkea Ultim Challenge – Brest - Circumnavigating the globe alone, on a giant…

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On board the latest Ultim trimarans, distances can seem shorter. It was on one of these 105 by 75-foot (32 x 23 m) giants that fly thanks to their foils, that the winner of the last Route du Rhum crossed the Atlantic in just 6 days. However, none of them have ever spent more than seventeen consecutive days at sea. And that was with a crew, on Jules Verne Trophy attempts. All of which were interrupted shortly after the Cape of Good Hope. To date, there are four people who have achieved the feat of sailing solo, non-stop around the planet in a multihull - the current record holder François Gabart, in 42 days, 16 hours and 40 minutes, who overtook the stubborn Thomas Coville (49 days in 2016), the British sailor Ellen MacArthur (71 days in 2005) and finally the legendary Francis Joyon (72 days in 2004). Before them, Alain Colas took 169 days in 1973 to circumnavigate the globe. He certainly made one stopover, but his faithful aluminum trimaran Manureva, formerly Eric Tabarly’s Pen Duick IV, still made history. In 1988, Philippe Monnet improved the time by 40 days despite his two stopovers (in South Africa and New Zealand) on a 60-foot trimaran named Kriter. His record only stood for one year, since Olivier de Kersauson, who also stopped twice (in Cape Town and Mar Del Plata), took only 125 days to return to Brest on Un Autre Regard. All in pink, the very elegant VPLP design built at CDK has become a legend and will remain so for a long time. The 82-foot (25 m) multihull weighed only 23,150 pounds (10.5 tonnes) at the time, compared to the current Ultims’ 33,000 lbs (15 t).
To win the Arkéa Ultim Challenge - Brest, you’re going to need a bit of luck... And to have a chance of breaking the record, you’ll need a perfect weather pattern. The start, set for January 7, 2024 at the tip of Brittany, in the heart of winter, could prove to be tough from the outset. As long as it is downwind, it would be ideal to reach the equator quickly. While the passage through the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), better known as the Doldrums, is more pleasant in terms of temperatures, the erratic winds and capricious squalls that characterize this region will test the sailors’ nerves to the limit. The descent, often quite to the west of the South Atlantic, along the Brazilian coast to escape the St. Helena High, is perhaps the least stressful passage, although one must remain vigilant when it comes to choosing the right moment before changing course to the east. Once caught in one of the many lows that circle Antarctica, it is important to stay ahead of it as long as possible, to pass the Cape of Good Hope first, and then then Cape Leeuwin. During a world record race, the sailors are free to choose their route and can cut it as short as possible ...

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