24h Ultim: A very promising warm-up
The second edition of the 24h Ultim has been playing out in Lorient since last Friday. Following Sodebo’s withdrawal due to damage to her daggerboard on the eve of the competition, the remaining four maxi-trimarans initially got embroiled in some speed runs before facing off in a 340-mile offshore course off the tip of Brittany. In preparation for the upcoming Transat Jacques Vabre, the teams set sail double-handed at noon yesterday, accompanied by an on-board reporter. Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, this was the first race meet for the Charles Caudrelier / Erwan Israël pairing. Securing a second place this Sunday, just three minutes shy of winner Banque Populaire, the crew on the five-arrow giant were pleased with the work carried out during the spring refit and confirmed that they are very much on the pace for the major sports challenges which await the men of Gitana Team. Indeed, in one month’s time, the fleet of giants will be in Le Havre for the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre, which promises to be just as thrilling as the showstopping spectacle offered up this weekend.
Joint winners of the speed runs and second in the offshore sprint   

Relaunched in late July, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild made her return to the racetrack in the 24h Ultim. Combining speed runs and an offshore sprint, it was the perfect format for sizing up the competition with one month to go until the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre and three months until the start of the Arkea Ultim Challenge, the first singlehanded round the world race for Ultims.   


There were three course marks and as many leaders for every rounding and there were less than fifteen minutes between the podium places in this second edition of the 24h Ultim as they crossed the finish line offshore of Pen Men on the Ile de Groix… If we add to that, not one but two winners (tied) from Friday’s speed runs, there is sufficient evidence to say that this 2023 vintage is evenly matched and the standard of the Ultim class is very high. Aboard their 32-metre-long sea giants, the skippers fiercely hunt down every metre won, giving rise to some intense and particularly hotly contested races. It’s a highly enjoyable scenario for both enthusiasts and sailors, whose smiles dockside in Lorient this morning spoke volumes.       

Verbatim from Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israël     

Charles Caudrelier: “It was a fantastic battle! The main source of satisfaction is the fact that the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild posted some stellar performances in the sectors we’ve recently been working on. The close-contact racing is the perfect way to raise our game, which is exciting when you have a competitive mindset. Congratulations to Banque Populaire for this victory. She’s quick and the crew sailed very well. They deserved the win. For our part, we made a few minor errors. They weren’t that serious, but the competition is so tight that very soon you have to pay the price for any blip. I think the most positive aspect is that we came right back into contention at the end of the course and we were tightly bunched at the finish. By racing this weekend, we’ve learned a lot about everyone’s strengths and weaknesses so I’m keen to discover the kind of weather conditions that the Transat Jacques Vabre has in store for us!”   

Erwan Israël: “It was fabulous! It was much better to be aboard rather than doing remote routing (Erwan Israël was Charles’ router during the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s last races and has since become his co-skipper). We mainly had medium conditions, but they were fantastic with a superb downwind flight towards Ushant, a magnificent starry night and an equally beautiful sunrise over Belle-Ile. I was very happy to be at sea. Our rivals have managed to close on us and there’s precious little separating the boats today. Logically we’re all really close now, which makes things very interesting. We are sailing within sight of one another virtually the whole way, which is motivating and very instructive. We each have our strengths and weaknesses. This race has enabled us to validate a lot of the sensations and we’re really happy with the way the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild performed. We’ve fought well, which is very positive for the Transat Jacques Vabre and we’re now focusing on this major challenge that awaits us.”   

The countdown to the Transat Jacques Vabre is on. In just less than three weeks’ time, on 19 October to be precise, the Ultims will enter the Eure Basin and tie up to the dock at the foot of a pavilion specially devised by the owners of these giants of the seas. Ten days later, on Sunday 29 October, the festivities in Le Havre will be punctuated by the race’s 30th anniversary celebrations before giving way to the open ocean and the competition. Ahead of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, reigning champion in the Ultim category, lay 7,000 nautical miles and around a fortnight at sea. Unsurprisingly, Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israël are eager to hit the racetrack!   

24h Ultim, offshore race time   

 1 - Maxi Banque Populaire XI  Finish: 01/10/2023 at 09:13:32 FR 
Race time: 21h 13min 32s 

2 - Maxi Edmond de Rothschild  Finish: 01/10/2023 at 09:16:52 FR 
Race time: 21h 16min 52s 
Deficit in relation to the winner: 03min 20s 

3 - SVR-Lazartigue  Finish: 01/10/2023 at 09:28:23 FR 
Race time: 21h 28min 23s 
Deficit in relation to the winner: 14min 51s 
Deficit in relation to the second boat: 11min 31s      

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