Rounding Cabo Frio
Whilst the solo sailors in the Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest began their sixth week of racing yesterday, Charles Caudrelier will shortly be crossing the trajectory he took nearly one month ago on his way down the Atlantic. Indeed, over the course of today, the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild rounded Cabo Frio, located over 150 km to the east of Rio de Janeiro. Still beating in a medium wind, the leader of this round the world has been digging deep with a series of tacks over the past 48 hours to carve out a route forward in a rather atypical Atlantic. Overnight, he’ll finally point the bows of the five-arrow maxi-trimaran northward, where a long tack offshore of the Brazilian coast awaits.

Since this morning, there are three boats navigating the Atlantic on the return leg. Thomas Coville treated himself to the 10th Horn of his career, rounding the legendary rock at the end of the world just over five days after the skipper of Gitana Team. Armel Le Cléac’h bid farewell to the Pacific some twenty-four hours beforehand, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Though this highly symbolic passage is often described as a moment of deliverance in a round the world under sail, one where you leave the isolation and the toughness of the Southern Ocean and return to a more familiar ocean, the climb up the Atlantic is certainly no walk in the park. A sentiment that the top trio in the Arkea Ultim Challenge are bound to echo.

Over the past 48 hours, Charles Caudrelier has had to perform a sequence of around ten tacks. On top of that, his trajectory hugging the Brazilian coast has raised the stress levels and called for increased vigilance. Amidst the cargo ships, the fishing boats and scores of oil platforms, the AIS alarms have been frequently going off over the past few hours aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

Further south, Armel Le Cléac’h has also been forced onto a course hugging the land, glued to the shores of Argentina to let a powerful low-pressure system roll over, which formed on the peaks of the Andes and is now barrelling towards the Southern Ocean.  

Benjamin Schwartz, weather router for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

“It’s a fairly atypical and not terribly rapid climb up the Atlantic. We’re currently coming out of the acceleration created by Cabo Frio, the eastern tip of Rio de Janeiro. We’re going to tack in the coming hours to begin a long leg on starboard in an easing wind. There is very little gradient in the pressure to the west of the Saint Helena High, with a ridge of high pressure stretching as far as the Brazilian coast. It’s a very reliable trade wind situation with a zone of high pressure sprawling right out across the South Atlantic. Naturally, we’d have preferred to have had a boisterous trade wind and the kind of angle that usually enables us to crack the sheets a little and accelerate. Instead, we’ll have to hang onto a fairly tight angle as far as Recife and the north-east tip of Brazil. Our pursuers, between 1,800 and 2,000 miles behind, are in an entirely different weather system to us and will benefit from more favourable conditions. Over the coming days they’ll close on us and it will be important not to linger too long over the miles conceded.”

Ranking at 18:00 UTC 

1/ Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - Charles Caudrelier   
2/ Maxi Banque Populaire XI - Armel Le Cleac’h – 1,828.1 miles behind the leader 
3/ Sodebo Ultim 3 - Thomas Coville – 2,068.8 miles behind the leader 
4/ Actual Ultim 3 - Anthony Marchand – 5,924.2 miles behind the leader 
5/ Ultim Adagio - Eric Peron 7,003.9 miles behind the leader 

SVR Lazartigue - Tom Laperche

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