Charles Caudrelier, Outright winner of the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild
He’d dreamed about it… and now it’s a done deal! Charles Caudrelier has become part of the Route du Rhum legend by securing a masterful win in the 12th edition of the most famous of France’s singlehanded transatlantic races. Indeed, the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild led the way from beginning to end, only relinquishing the top spot on the very odd occasion. The solo sailor crossed the finish line in the bay of Pointe-à-Pitre on Wednesday 16 November 2022 at 5h02 (local time), 9h02 UTC, completing the theoretical 3,542-mile course between Saint Malo and Guadeloupe in 6 days 19 hours 47 minutes and 25 seconds. It was by posting an average speed of 21,6 knots along the direct course, or 26,9 knots over the ground that Charles Caudrelier and the flying maxi-trimaran made butterfly island.

This incredible performance has enabled him to not only take victory in the Ultim category, but also to secure the new event record, which had been held by Francis Joyon since 2018. The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild improved on the previous time by 18 hrs 34 min 22 sec, despite the weather conditions being far from optimum or favourable for high speed.     

Thanks to this latest victory, the Gitana Team, an offshore racing stable founded in 2000 by Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild, has pulled off the double by following up on the team’s achievements in the 2006 edition won by Lionel Lemonchois aboard Gitana 11. In this way, the five-arrow team joins the very exclusive circle of double champions of the event; to date a ‘title’ held solely by Primagaz skippered by Laurent Bourgnon. Fittingly, it is this great sailor who inspired Charles Caudrelier from a very early age and who made him want to one day take the start of this legendary race.  

Charles Caudrelier's first statements, just after crossing the line:

"I’m not even tired ultimately. The race was tough, but once I got over that, I got into my groove and then I was so determined to succeed and so eager to win this race for many personal reasons… I’ve dreamed about it since I was a child, but I was never able to do it. It was a massive source of frustration. Then one day, 3 years ago, I was offered this dream… I have so many people to thank, people who supported me and believed in me… I’m not going to list them all. I’ll talk about that later, but I’d like to thank the family first of all; this family who built this fabulous boat, with Cyril Dardashti, director of the Gitana Team. It was something unthinkable. They said, “we’re going to do this crazy thing, we’re going to build an offshore flying boat”, and I said, “You’re on, let’s go for it”.  I first saw this boat sailing at the start of the Rhum some 4 years ago and I thought it was crazy. A year later, I was aboard… There’s a long history with Franck Cammas too. It really has been all about the teamwork, with an entire team. I’ve been working for 3 years alongside him and I owe him a massive thank you, as he’s the one who was the multihull expert, he’s the one who had the experience of sailing these boats singlehanded. For my part, I was from a different background. Without him I wouldn’t have had such a high-performance boat. I wouldn’t have had this mastery of this boat… The crunch point came when we had to choose who was going to do the Rhum and he left me that role, which I thank him for…   

I’d also like to thank the whole team. It really is all down to the team. She’s an extremely complicated boat, which is constantly evolving. There were lots of new boats up against them and it was important to keep ahead of the game to be able to perform just as well. I didn’t have a single issue on the boat. In fact, I’m keen to say that it was almost the perfect race. There’s a pretty strong history woven into this team. People who live for racing, almost more than me… And to see how happy they are with this result is great and I’m eager to thank them. I’m banging the point home because I’ve fulfilled a dream thanks to them. It has to be said that I have one of the best machines, the best machine even… 

I wanted to do this race, but on top of that I wanted to do it within this context on this boat… it’s crazy!!   I’d also like to spare a thought for my mum, who I lost fairly recently. She dreamed that I would win this race, but she’s no longer here to share in this… And I also spare a thought for the owner of our boat, Benjamin de Rothschild, who passed away last year and enabled us to live out this dream… and to all his family. I thank them and embrace them. They believed in me, thank you."

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