24h Ultim, first solo victory for Charles Caudrelier
In the early hours of this Sunday 2 October, guided by the light of the Pen-Men lighthouse at the western tip of Groix Island off Lorient, Charles Caudrelier treated Gitana Team to another victory. This is his seventh win in a row since he joined the team in 2019, but his first singlehanded at the helm of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild! Leading the fleet out of the starting blocks some twenty hours or so earlier, the skipper of the five-arrow racing stable demonstrated great mastery out on the racetrack, never letting his rivals catch up with the flying maxi-trimaran. Beyond the result, this course spanning five-hundred nautical miles and the race format were the perfect preparation with one month until the start of the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe. It’s all systems go now then, and Charles Caudrelier is eager to get down to action on 6 November.

Following Friday’s speed runs, which were contested in the vicinity of Groix Island and were won by Sodebo, the sailors switched to solo mode (false-solo to be precise with one member of crew observing and one onboard reporter) and offshore mode yesterday for a course spanning nearly 500 miles in the Bay of Biscay. Upon his arrival dockside, the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was grinning from ear to ear, willingly stepping up for a Q&A session to share his impressions about the past 20 hours of racing and take stock of his solo victory in Ultim.     

The conditions and the course   

“As part of the Race Management team, Gildas Morvan was keen to offer us a proper training session with a month to go until the Rhum. As a result, he sought out a course which was as similar as possible to our first hours of racing after setting sail from St Malo. We raced close-hauled, on a reach and downwind, followed by more time on a reach. The whole session involved a good 20-25 knots of breeze and heavy seas typical of the upcoming season. It was very comprehensive and really interesting to size up the competition and step up our game in terms of trimming the boat. Despite an extension to the course and a passage of nearly 500 miles, we transformed the 24h Ultim into 20h… conditions being such that we were able to rack up a good average speed - bordering on 40 knots – particularly on the homeward leg back to Lorient and Groix Island.”   

The sailor -boat pairing   

“It’s working pretty well! I’ve racked up a lot of hours of flying on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, so I know her by heart. I’m very at ease with her. I’m lucky to have had three years to prepare for the major meeting that is the Route du Rhum. However, we’ve only recently changed our foils. These new appendages have enabled us to really take our performance to the next level. The boat is slipping along better and the foils are cavitating less. We’re really pleased with the boat’s new speeds, though as with every new element, I still have a bit to learn in terms of their optimum trim.”   

The competition 

“You can clearly see that everyone has progressed and is able to make fast headway. We’re very evenly matched. That’s no surprise and actually it’s extra motivating. You really have to give your all. I think that the execution of the manoeuvres may well have made the difference today. I’ve always loved that and it’s an area I’ve worked on quite a lot. It was a short format for something on the scale of our big boats so it was very intense. We put in a lot of manoeuvres and last night I’d have really loved to have been 10 years younger… In this instance, I didn’t get any sleep, but that won’t be possible in the Route du Rhum. Sleeping whilst making fast headway is something that I’ve long been convinced is one of the major keys to success.”   

Next on the agenda prior to the Rhum 

 “We still have a few minor things to test before the Rhum. We may not have them on-board for the race, but it’s worth testing them all the same… On a personal level, I’m going to continue with my physical fitness training with a special session over the coming days. The team will make the most of that time to carry out a final check of the Maxi in solo configuration and then we’ll need to head to St Malo. We’re expected there for 25 October, which is fast approaching!”   

Ranking for the best runs – Time over 1 nautical mile   

1. Sodebo Ultim 3 (Thomas Coville) in 1’28’’- 42.93 knots 
2. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Charles Caudrelier) in 1’30’’ – 41.93 knots 
3. Banque Populaire XI (Armel Le Cléac’h) in 1’33’’ – 39.83 knots
4. Mieux ( Arthur Levaillant) in 1’55’’ – 32.15 knots   

Ranking for the 24 h Ultim 

1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (Charles Caudrelier) in 19h 54’52’’ 
2.Banque Populaire XI (Armel Le Cléac’h) 25’ 7’’ behind the leader
3. Sodebo Ultim 3 (Thomas Coville) 1h38’18’’ behind the leader
4. Mieux ( Arthur Levaillant) 6h42’47’’ behind the leader    

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