Brest Atlantiques, four weeks to complete a big Atlantic circuit - Act 1
The Brest Atlantiques rounds off this morning for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild after 29 days at sea and over 17,000 miles over the ground. The Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier duo, together with their media man Yann Riou, will cross the finish line this Wednesday morning at the entrance to Brest Harbour. We take the opportunity to review the last four fantastic weeks of racing.
1st week of racing
On Sunday 3 November, the initial date scheduled for the start of the Brest Atlantiques, the first autumn storm is sweeping the Breton coast. The competing giants and their crews are obliged to wait another 48 hours to let the bulk of the rough weather roll through. On Tuesday 5 November at 10:00 UTC, the competitors steal out onto the racetrack from Brest. However, the weather conditions that reign over the Chaussée de Sein will be remembered for a long time to come: 30 knots and nearly 5-metre waves. “I haven't seen a sea like this since the South Pacific in the Volvo Ocean Race, it's impracticable”. The first words from offshore from Yann Riou, the media man on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild set the tone.
The Bay of Biscay is devoured in a matter of hours... That very evening on the day of the start, Cape Finisterre is already in their wake! Leading the way, François Gabart calls the tune. Second, right behind him, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier take up a prudent start whilst showing that they too are a force to be reckoned with.
The start of the race is brisk and the miles are ticked off very quickly between the hulls of the Maxis powered up in a drag race to the equator.
On 7 November, at the 03:00 UTC position report, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild goes on the offensive. The first to put in its gybe southwards, the Cammas / Caudrelier duo move up to the head of the race. Twenty-four hours later, under the cover of darkness, as they're passing the Cape Verde islands, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild hits a UFO (Unidentified Floating Object) and damages her daggerboard's lifting surface. Very swiftly, back in Lorient, a commando operation is organised to get the team to intervene as quickly as possible on the other side of the Atlantic. Bahia, the historic city associated with the Transat Jacques Vabre finish and well known to Gitana Team's shore crew, appears to be the best option for the stopover both from a weather perspective and for practical and logistical aspects. Though deprived of some of her potential without the use of her famous skate wing', Gitana 17 remains at the front of the pack: a neat trajectory in the doldrums notably, total commitment from the two sailors to get the best out of a light and shifty breeze in the guise of a trade wind. Meantime, the crew on her closest rival - Macif - also announce that they're experiencing difficulties after they too were involved in a collision. Like Gitana, François Gabart's team envisages a pit stop, albeit in Rio, to repair damage to the central rudder.
On Sunday 10 November, shortly before 14:00 UTC, after 5 days and 4 hours of racing, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild crosses the equator in what is a remarkable time, especially so in double-handed format. The weather at the time doesn't allow for any major options and so it is that the four competing giants follow a diagonal route across to the Brazilian coast in single file. However, Gitana 17's pit stop on the morning of 12 November will restart the race!
4,000 miles covered
Maximum speed: 34.2 knots
5 days in the lead
Ranking of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, on Tuesday 12 November at 11:00 UTC
3rd / MAXI EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD (Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier / Yann Riou) - 167.9 miles behind the leader - On a pit stop in Salvador de Bahia