In contact
The Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest has got off to a great start. Yesterday, at 12:30 UTC, the fleet of six giants treated us to a spectacular show to pay tribute to the large crowds both on land and at sea. After the first rather timid tack in Archimedean mode, the wind steadily picked up the further offshore the solo sailors got. These extra few knots filling the sails enabled the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and her rivals to really show off their potential in flight mode. Stood up on their foils, their hulls airborne, they set sail on their first single-handed round the world race: sublime! Since then, the initial moments at sea have been spent in close contact with the rest of the fleet. Already making headway abeam of Portugal this afternoon, after a little over 24 hours of racing, Charles Caudrelier is a few miles ahead, leading the way southward.
A transatlantic pace for starters!   

The Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest set sail yesterday at 12:30 UTC from the north-west tip of Brittany and yet the fleet of ULTIMs was already passing the latitude of Porto this Monday afternoon. Everyone is in agreement that the start of this round the world race is more reminiscent of a transatlantic sprint than a long-haul sea passage around the planet. As such, for this first night at sea, the solo sailors were not hanging back, clearly keen to make an impression from the get-go. Despite some rather fluky conditions, which called for the sailors to spend many long hours at the helm, the giants lengthened their stride and devoured the Bay of Biscay at high speed. The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was polled making more than 47 knots last night! With that, Charles Caudrelier took control of the fleet midway through the night and was first around Cape Finisterre in the early hours (shortly after 06:00 UTC).   

These first few miles of racing are very much in close contact to the great delight of the observers and cartography addicts who typically shape the offshore racing landscape. At 16:00 hours, five of the six pretenders were bunched tightly together.   

As predicted, what lies ahead is a slightly unconventional and demanding weather forecast. The big depression currently circulating in the North Atlantic has turned the usual configuration on its head and Charles Caudrelier and the other five solo sailors in the Arkea Ultim Challenge have been having to contend with a particularly random, dying breeze since midday.     

Charles Caudrelier’s first words from the ocean   

“The first night… was not really a night in fact, as I hardly slept. We had to do a lot of helming because the wind was very shifty, otherwise you couldn’t make headway. I’m in good shape. I managed to sleep in the early hours and eat well. Together with my routers, I think we sailed well during the first few hours of the race, but the situation remains complicated in terms of the weather. We don’t really know where the sweet spot is. We’re nicely positioned, but the wind is very, very random.   We’ve got off to a quick start! For a round the world race it’s not exactly the right pace for now. I slowed a fair bit in the early hours. I went to get some sleep as I saw that everyone was barrelling along at 40 knots. There’s no better way to break boats… all that to end up in the same light patch…”   

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