Route du Rhum: Soft trades for Ultims, a third front for the IMOCA and Class40s

Route du Rhum: Soft trades for Ultims, a third front for the IMOCA and Class40s

Image: Justine Metraux ( Crédit Arnaud Pilpré.jpg

As fatigue prevails.

There are trade winds, but they are light for the leading Ultim 32/23 duo who open the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe course towards Pointe-à-Pitre now less than 1350 nautical miles to their south west. Charles Caudrélier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) has opened his leading margin to 46 miles over François Gabart (SVR Lavatigue). Both are making between 30 and 35kts early this morning and Caudrelier has just done a 561 miles 24hrs run.
They are finding it physically tough and tiring in the shifting, unsettled trade winds but they are in clover compared to the monohull IMOCA and Class40s, especially, which are mainly battling west and contemplating a third big frontal system. And for those still north of 42N – around Cape Finisterre – there is the prospect of a stormy conditions in ex hurricane Nicole.

Caudrelier and Gabart were gybing last night down the east side of the Azores high to reach the trade winds, “At the moment they are not very special. These are not the trade winds that we would like. But it should get better and better, quite soon I hope, because currently we are marginal flying up and down. We are tearing our hair out a bit and we are fighting to stay as fast as possible but there is sea. The conditions are not easy at all. This Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is physically hard. There are no easy tacks and the weather is demanding. I'm tired to the point of not being able to fall asleep anymore.” Said Caudrelier who said they should be getting into better breeze this morning and reckons they are less than two days to the finish line.

Fatigue is felt all through the fleet. On 24th placed Medallia Pip Hare reported “When every dial in your body is on empty, your muscles ache, you are damp and slightly chilled, your mind and your body are out of fuel and the best remedy is to spend a lazy day, eating soup and reading a book by an open fire. It's not a bad feeling, I quite like that depleted sense when you have done a lot of exercise, but there is no book reading for me.”

The IMOCA fleet are seeing Charlie Dalin (Apivia) opening his lead again as he descends SW into slightly stronger breeze. He is now more than 70 miles ahead of long time rival Jérémie Beyou (Charal). Swiss skipper Justine Mettraux (Teamwork) on her first big solo IMOCA race on the former Charal is seventh, preparing for the next big front she said this morning “I hesitated a lot between continuing to win towards the south and getting back to the west. It turns out, in the end, that I didn't have much choice because compared to what was planned, it was becoming less and less interesting. I try, despite everything, to stay south enough so as not to stray into too much wind. I know that I'm going to have a tough frontal passage to negotiate this morning and I want to minimise the chances of giving myself problems"

Down the track, south of the Azores Ocean Fifty leader Quentin Vlamynck has slowly but surely widened his margin. Yesterday night he was 30 miles ahead, this morning it is 60. "I'm where I wanted to be so it's great. However, I continue to sail cautiously. At the exit of the archipelago, there was a small soft area to negotiate. It's starting to get better but it's still not sure that the winds will remain very stable today. In any case, it is what it is”, said the youngest skipper in the class who won the crewed Pro Sailing Tour 2022. “I haven't steered almost since the start and I'm in great shape. I know that we will have to watch out for the many potholes and problems still to come my way.”

He says he is looking forwards to unfurling his gennaker for the first time later today

The intensity at the head of Class40 is that of a Figaro leg, scarcely surprising as the top trio are all alumni of the solo one design fleet. Yoann Richomme (Paprec-Arkea) has taken the lead since yesterday and is side by side with rival Corentin Douguet (Quéguiner-Innoveo) this morning, but they are all pushing west hard, rather than south,
“We actually had no other option than to go back west. If we dived to the south the routing showed us taking two days more to get to Guadeloupe. Going west does not make us happy because we are attacking a third front. It's going to be super intense again but this should be the last one.”
Richomme says they expect gusts to 45kts and rough seas. “Right now we have 27-30 knots and it's going up. We are advancing at 12 knots against the waves. It makes quite violent jumps and stops. It slams hard in the boat, like explosions ”said Richomme, "South of the Azores, we should find it better. “

**Key points **
Suffering a structural failure of a front bulkhead of his Class40 Eora, Rupert Henry officially notified Race Management of his retirement in this Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. There are 123 boats left in the race.

After a head injury and having spoken to the race doctor, Jean Galfione, the skipper of the Class40 Serenis Consulting, who had already made a first stopover in Brest following an accumulation of technical problems is heading to Vigo. There he will undergo additional medical examinations which will determine whether or not he can continue the race.

At around 9 p.m. yesterday, Pierre Casenave-Péré, the skipper of the Class40 Legallais, reached the port of La Coruña where he will try to solve his rigging problems.