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Return to the news 17 November 2019

Towards the ice gate and the Roaring Forties

Brest Atlantiques Maxi Edmond de Rothschild Franck Cammas Charles Caudrelier

The Brest Atlantiques fleet is continuing its difficult progress in the South Atlantic. Since rounding the passage mark of Rio de Janeiro, which the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild successfully negotiated at lunchtime on Thursday, conditions have become tougher and the four participating duos are having to contend with sustained winds - 30 knots and heavy head seas, which are proving exhausting for the men and hard on the machines. However, these full-on conditions seem to really suit Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas who, for the past three days, have been stamping their mark on the rhythm of the race and really showing what the flying maxi-trimaran with five arrows is capable of. At the 11:00 UTC position report, they boasted a 74-mile lead over François Gabart and Gwénolé Gahinet and nearly 200 miles in relation to Sodebo Ultim.

Favourable weather pattern for the pursuers

Last night, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild saw her rivals make up some ground on them. Indeed, they were able to close on the leader due to the passage of a small depression, that only affected the first duo in the Brest Atlantiques, as Franck Cammas was already predicting yesterday: "We have a depression to negotiate tonight. It's not very big but it will involve a lot of sail changes in order to get past it." 

In fact, it's been an active night in the cockpit of the latest Gitana, constantly adapting to the sail area according to the variations in the wind, the whole thing in less heavy seas, but they've still had to punch into them so it's been a relatively uncomfortable ride. Since then, Gitana 17 and her crew have latched onto a more established breeze again and the few miles conceded in the light airs at the centre of the depression have already been made up in part. At the 11:00 UTC ranking, the 32-metre giant was lengthening her stride at nearly 30 knots bound for Gough Island, one of the islands that make up the British archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, and the ice gate imposed by Race Management for the event. Indeed, following the detection of ice via satellite, an imaginary line has been set up by the organisers to help the competitors avoid sailing in zones where there is a potential risk. 

This safety measure is necessary but adds to the difficulty in what is a game of strategy for the competitors in the Brest Atlantiques. This reason for this is that the Saint Helena High is further South than normal and just skirts this ice gate...

The third man 

For over twelve days, he has been enabling us to get an insight into the daily life of Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier through his camera lens. His drone images during the descent of the Atlantic and more recently the passage around the Cagarras Islands have not gone unnoticed, adding yet another dimension to our ability to follow their progress in the race. However, Yann Riou, the media man on Edmond de Rothschild, is also a seasoned sailor: Mini Transat, dozens of transatlantic races, a Jules Verne Trophy and two Volvo Ocean Races... In this way, he's familiar with the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean. That's why today's account from him is a very good indicator of how hard life - and work - is aboard Gitana 17: "This evening, we should make the ice gate. That doesn't sound very appealing said like that… And yet, it also means that we'll be done with this wretched spell of reaching! It's been three days that we've been making headway punching into the sea in sustained breeze. So yes, it's become a little less laborious than when we were leaving Rio, but it's still complicated. It's complicated to find the right compromise to go fast without risk of damaging the boat. It's complicated to get any sleep between the wave hopping. And it's complicated to write this message with a keyboard that keeps slipping off my knees. So yes, we may be a bit cold, but we're pretty content to get to this point, in these famous Roaring Forties…"

Ranking on 17 November 2019 at 11:00 UTC

1. MAXI EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD (Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier / Yann Riou) - distance to the goal: 7,481.7 miles - average speed over the past 30 mins: 29.4 knots

2. MACIF (François Gabart / Gwenolé Gahinet / Jérémie Eloy) - 74.1 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 22.7 knots

3. SODEBO ULTIM 3 (Thomas Coville / Jean-Luc Nelias / Martin Keruzoré) -  199.8 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 29.9 knots

4. ACTUAL LEADER (Yves Le Blevec / Alex Pella / Ronan Gladu) -  325.3 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins:   25.3 knots

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