Charles Caudrelier, from one circumnavigation of the globe to another
Currently awaiting favourable weather conditions to set sail on the quest for the Jules Verne Trophy with the crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Charles Caudrelier is closely monitoring progress in another round the world: The Ocean Race. For eight years, the race formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race was part of his life and saw him secure two wins out of three participations. He discusses his memories and his take on the new formula and the skippers who dream of succeeding him on the winners’ list.
“There is something special about this race”

Renowned for being tough and demanding and for its ability to put both mind and body to the test, the old Volvo Ocean Race served as a springboard for the Breton skipper. Taking victory at the end of the last leg alongside Franck Cammas in 2011-2012, he went on to head up the Dongfeng Race Team. Third in 2014-2015, he finally took the win in his subsequent campaign, that too on the final leg, in 2017-2018. “For a long time, it was a childhood dream, he explains. This race has something special about it and the emotion you feel when you secure the win is wonderful.”

These experiences are valuable at every level, especially with regard to dealing with fatigue, repeated effort and the complicity of a team. Another takeaway from the days spent battling it out on the deck of a VOR65, the monohull used at the time, awash with spray, is a certain idea about living together as a crew. “The major difference is that the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is more comfortable thanks to her size and stability in flight, which plays the role of a shock absorber,” he acknowledges. In the light of his past round the worlds, the skipper highlights the importance of “choosing the right people to make up his team,” knowing how to “call oneself into question”, taking care to “avoid tensions” and “opting for humour to get someone to understand when they’ve gone too far.” 

Charles makes no secret of his admiration for the skippers of The Ocean Race who make up the five crews currently having a crack at the adventure in IMOCA. “There have never been such long crewed races aboard these boats, he explains. Space is limited and comfort is minimal. They have no room to cook, to sit down properly or even to stand upright. It’s hard to imagine coping with all that for so long.”

Exchanged glances

The sailors competing in The Ocean Race are equally respectful of him. In the port of Alicante before setting sail, on 15 January, everyone had something positive to say about Charles and his latest challenge. “It’s nice to see that he’ll be setting sail about the same time as us, said Paul Meilhat (Biotherm). Along with Franck, they’re two sailors whose progress I’ve followed a great deal over recent years. It’s thanks to them that I was keen to do this race.” Kevin Escoffier (Holcim-PRB) echoes this sentiment, “Charles is very talented, he has an experienced team and the knowledge that comes with years of work.”

“What Charles and Franck have been doing for several years is impressive, enthuses Benjamin Dutreux (Guyot Environnement-Team Europe). They always manage to be in the running for the top spot and to give their best. They’re both very inspirational sailors.” All of them are confident about their Jules Verne Trophy attempt. Jack Bouttell, a crew member on 11th Hour Racing Team and a team-mate of Charles aboard Dongfeng in 2017-2018 agrees: “I’m sure they’re capable of beating the record. I wish them all the best, in any case.” And the Australian concludes: “Fair winds guys, go for it!”

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