The latest generation Maxis: giant and flying!
Since 2010, gigantic proportions have made their grand comeback in the Route du Rhum. Indeed, the 9th edition of the famous transatlantic race between Saint Malo and Pointe-à-Pitre was punctuated by Franck Cammas' crushing victory. At the helm of his Groupama 3 built for crewed configuration, and freshly crowned in the Jules Verne Trophy, the sailor from Aix en Provence paved the way forward for the new maxi-multihulls. In this way, in 2014, Spindrift, the largest trimaran ever built, took the start and ultimately finished in 2nd place. This year, for the race's 40th anniversary, six giants will battle it out. All of them, with the exception of Remade Use it Again! must wait for the big day outside the historic basins of Saint Malo due to their extraordinary dimensions. And when you know that the beam determines a vessel's strength, it's evident that there will be a battle royal on the cards!
VIDEO - But where is the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild?
Sébastien Josse and the latest addition to the Gitana fleet are much yearned for on the pontoons of Saint Malo, even though their late arrival has been scheduled for a good while. Jacques Caraës, Race Director of the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe gives us the low-down in the first article, 98 seconds created by Yann Riou and Eloi Stichelbaut.
Having left her base in Lorient this Monday at noon, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is expected in Saint Malo tomorrow morning Tuesday 30 October.
The Ultimes, outstanding... and outside the basins in Saint Malo
Measuring 32 metres long and 23 metres wide, not including the various parts of the floats around the appendages, the Naye lock gates which herald the compulsory entry to the basins of the pirate city simply aren't wide enough to envisage getting five of the six competitors through with the optimum level of safety. In this way, Edmond de Rothschild will be moored at the foot of the ramparts, albeit beside the Bourse harbour station.
The anecdote is far from just a logical one either, as these XXL problems demonstrate that these giants of the seas have well and truly made the switch to a whole new era. Indeed, what determines the power of a trimaran and, as a result, the difficulty of helming her singlehanded, is her wide beam. In fact, it's worth noting that during the last edition, solely two boats had to moor outside the Bassin Vauban.
Crossing the Atlantic singlehanded on a latest generation Ultime... it's today already!
With its record number of participants 123 in all the classes combined the Route du Rhum 2018 is already shaping up to be a red-letter edition. In the star class of Ultimes, there could be a lot more in this vintage and rumour has it that it is quite simply a turning point in offshore racing. Not only are the flying maxi-multihulls making their entry on the solo stage, among them the pioneering Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, but it is also the first confrontation on an oceanic scale for these latest generation chargers, which further down the line are destined to rip shreds out of the time it takes to circumnavigate the globe.
However, behind the technological wizardry and the remarkable work by the teams to fine-tune these extremely demanding, cutting-edge giants of the seas, the human exploit remains and maybe takes an even more key role on such machines. Indeed, driving a carbon monster, singlehanded at the sustained rhythm of a transatlantic, that is capable of literally freeing itself of the water, is a challenge of rare intensity... It is a gamble and a crazy one at that - which three of the six entries in the Ultime category are preparing to go for: Sébastien Josse, skipper of the five-arrow team, as well as Armel Le Cléac'h and François Gabart, who certainly don't have the latest generation crafts designed specially to fly, but who have managed to adapt their steeds with this aim in mind. On 4 November 2018, this trio is setting sail to write the first lines in the offshore flying boat story. Through her philosophy and her architectural concept, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is doubtless the boldest and the most innovative of them all.