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Storm Forces Ultim Challenge Leader To Take ‘Time Out'

2nd February 2024
A CEP model for the Horn passage if the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had passed on February 4
A CEP model for the Horn passage if the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild had passed on February 4 Credit: GITANA SA

The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild team has said this morning that their Ultim Challenge leading skipper Charles Caudrelier has made the decision to put his race on hold for an indefinite period because of the weather conditions which were expected for his passage of Cape Horn. “They are absolutely incompatible with progress, and so we have chosen to be patient”, explains Caudrelier.

Blocking the route are violent winds of 50 to 70 knots with very heavy seas, all created by two depressions. To pass the rugged coast of Tierra del Fuego and the famous Cape Horn would be a perilous mission. So Caudrelier and his routing team made the decision this morning to put the race on ‘pause the race.’ Their team press release this morning said “This is a choice which is essential for the preservation of man and machine”.

Caudrelier was due to pass Cape Horn this Sunday, February 4. However, a southern ocean depression is in the North-East and a second is forming in the North.

“In the coming days, these two systems will meet and merge, it will be explosive,” explains Erwan Israel from the Gitana routing cell. “Gusts over 70 knots are expected. This decision is obvious. It was just not possible to move towards the Horn with such a weather scenario. It was an ambush that would have closed in on us with no possible escape since in the South we are limited by the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.”

“This is the first time in my life that such a situation has happened to me in a race,” admits Charles Caudrelier. “We have chosen to be patient. I want to keep things in perspective. We have a boat and a skipper in great shape. I keep smiling and I remain positive even if I will surely be chomping at the bit to see the miles to the finish keep dropping. A week ahead is perhaps a lot. But Cape Horn with more than a day in advance, is something any round the world racer dreams of and I think I will have more than that.” In the lead of the Ultim Challenge for 17 days, the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is currently more than 3,400 miles ahead of his leading pursuers.

Published in Ultim Challenge
Andi Robertson

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Andi Robertson

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Andi Robertson is an international sailing journalist based in Scotland

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About the Ultim Challenge

The ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest, which starts from Brest, France on Sunday, 7 January, will be the first-ever solo race around the world on giant Ultim trimarans, the biggest and fastest ocean-going sailboats in the world.

The inaugural six competitors of the Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest are:

  • Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild)
  • Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3)
  • Tom Laperche (SVR - Lazartigue)
  • Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire XI)
  • Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3)
  • Éric Péron (ADAGIO) - subject to qualification.