Close contact sailing on the approach to Madeira
Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, the third day of racing in the Finistère Atlantique did not get off to the best of starts. Whilst Charles Caudrelier and his crew had been leading the way since the race start in Concarneau, by early this afternoon they’d lost the top spot to Armel Le Cléac’h’s men. Indeed, the latter are more at ease and quicker in the weather conditions currently being negotiated by the head of the fleet on the approach to Madeira, namely on a downwind point of sail with a dying breeze fluctuating between 11 and 14 knots. As such, after forty-eight hours at sea, it’s game on again for the top two boats, with Sodebo still in contact just thirty or so miles astern of them.
A change of pace to drop down the Atlantic 

Yesterday evening, the Ultims set the speedos spinning offshore of the Portuguese coast. In heavier seas punctuated by a 20-25-knot NNE’ly wind, the four crew were really able to show off the extent of the speed potential posted by their 32-metre giants. And it’s within this atmosphere, making an average speed of over 40 knots, that they launched onto an oceanic match race, with each crew having to select the ideal moment to gybe southwards! This Sunday though, conditions have clearly become calmer and the four teams competing in the Finistère Atlantique are now slipping along in a moderate trade wind that’s proving to be a little too tame to enable the Ultims to fly along in a constant and efficient manner…   

From the hunted to the hunter 

Since this morning, the various position reports have shown that Banque Populaire has a slight speed advantage. However, it’s only since early this Sunday afternoon that the latter has translated that performance to the scoreboard. Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, Charles Caudrelier remained optimistic and even saw the appeal of this unprecedented situation: “Right now, we’re not going as fast as our direct rival, Banque Populaire. It’s not a nice situation, but it is certainly interesting! In phases like these, you learn a great deal, about them, about how much progress they’ve made and the way they trim, and hence about ourselves too. We know that our boat is a little heavier, which is bound to explain this slight speed deficit we’re experiencing. We have light conditions at the moment and our ability to remain airborne is borderline. They must be able to power up on their foils shortly before us, which is enabling them to open up a bit of a lead, so roll on the point on the racetrack where the wind picks back up!” admitted the skipper of Gitana 17, who was very focused on trimming the sails and the appendages during his watch this afternoon.     

Over the coming hours, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and her rivals will have to put in another gybe towards the Canaries and Lanzarote, the next waypoint in the Finistère Atlantique – Challenge Action Enfance. According to the latest routing, the easternmost island of the Spanish archipelago may well be within sight tomorrow, Monday 4 July, either late into the night or in the early hours.     

The Finistère Atlantique Challenge Action Enfance 

3,163-mile course across the North Atlantic 
Concarneau, the Glénan archipelago, Madeira, Lanzarote (Canaries), Santa Maria (Azores), Concarneau (Brittany)     

Crew on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild 

Charles Caudrelier, skipper 
Franck Cammas, helm, navigator 
Morgan Lagravière, helm, trimmer 
David Boileau, trimmer, bowman 
Erwan Israël, helm, trimmer 
Yann Riou, media crew, helm    

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