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The depression that the solo sailors in the Arkea Ultim Challenge had to contend with last night was something that everyone was dreading given that the various weather models were forecasting a rapid but violent phenomenon. And they were right: average winds of around 30 knots, with powerful gusts in excess of 50 knots recorded… the whole thing associated with significant storm activity and raging seas. Shortly after 21:00 UTC, Charles Caudrelier was the first to launch into a sequence of major manoeuvres and pass the front, Tom Laperche hot on his heels. The duo managed to steal a bit of a march on their closest rivals Armel Le Cléac’h and Thomas Coville constantly jockeying for the top spot in the ULTIM fleet and trading places according to the position reports. At the 18:00 UTC report, the top two boasted a lead of around thirty miles. In reality, their advantage is closer to 100 miles as the distance on the cartography is calculated in relation to the rhumb line (direct route, editor’s note) rather than in line with the upcoming weather options.

Charles Caudrelier, on 11 January

“I’d never experienced seas like it aboard this boat. Conditions were Dantean! Tom Laperche and I discussed it afterwards. It was pretty impressive because we were traversing great walls of water. Prior to changing tack, I even disconnected part of my antennae due to the storm activity in certain cells. There was lightning streaking right around the boat… The seas were really heavy last night after the front rolled through and today there was a big beam swell, which made it difficult to trim the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. On top of that, I have a little playmate alongside me whose half my age and is preventing me from getting any rest! We’re now making headway downwind towards the doldrums and the equator, but the trajectory is much further west than usual, which is a clear indication of what a unique descent of the Atlantic this is in terms of the weather.”

WAYPOINT #2, Gitana Team’s round the world rendez-vous

Every Thursday, throughout the Arkea Ultim Challenge, Gitana Team is offering you a complete round-up of Charles Caudrelier and the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s race. Via its weekly video broadcast, you’ll discover the latest onboard footage, analysis of the weather and strategy as explained by the members of the team’s routing cell, as well as delving behind the scenes of the five-arrow racing stable whilst its flagship is out on the racetrack. Finally, this rendez-vous will round off with a long oceanic interview recorded by a different star guest. Charles will share his feelings and his sentiments with the host throughout this epic adventure.

For this second episode of WAYPOINT, some four days after the fabulous start of the Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest, we start by offering you the chance to relive the finest images filmed on Sunday 7 January offshore of Brest in north-west Brittany; the solo sailors and their giant in full flight, on their first race around the world. Next, we’ll head over to Larmor-Plage to get together with the routing cell responsible for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, made up of Erwan Israël, Julien Villion and Benjamin Schwartz, not to mention Chris Bedford. They’ll open up the doors of their house to us a few hours before the front rolls through that kept the ULTIM fleet busy last night. It’s also an opportunity for them to detail the strategic choices made since the start. Diving further behind the scenes, we also visit the heart of the Gitana Base, where Cyril Dardashti, the general manager of the racing stable, and David Boileau, boat captain of Gitana 17, unveil for us the onshore challenge during these first few days at sea. On this Thursday 11 January, as our star guest we’re lucky enough to welcome our first offshore sailor ‘interviewer’: ladies first… Samantha Davies. The skipper of the IMOCA Initiatives-Cœur knows Charles Caudrelier very well and it is with undisguised glee that the two sailors exchange ideas.

Welcome to the 2nd episode of WAYPOINT!

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