The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild blazing a trail back up the South Atlantic
Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are continuing to lead the race by the horns in the Ultime category. Settled nicely into the top spot since rounding Cape Finisterre on the evening of Tuesday 9 November, the duo on the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild fulfilled its mission to round the virtual course mark to the north of Trindade and Martim Vaz early on this Wednesday afternoon. From the Brazilian archipelago, the sailors of Gitana Team saw but one distant silhouette, at which point they were eager to finally set a course towards the finish and Martinique. The five-arrow giant is still benefiting from a sizeable lead over her rivals some 282 miles ahead of Banque Populaire XI and 399 miles ahead of SVR-Lazartigue at the 15:00 UTC position report.
Return trip in the South Atlantic

“The drop down from the equator is quite long. It’s a straight-line course, with not a lot of tactical options. It’s all about exploiting the boat’s potential as best you can, getting her making headway and taking care of ourselves. However, conditions were not very comfortable with short, head seas,” explained Franck Cammas in the footage received from on-board this morning. For his part, Charles Caudrelier was able to see the funny side of the situation: “We are approaching the Trinidade mark. Soon we’re turning back and heading northwards, towards the finish! It’s pretty odd and somewhat paradoxical; we’re the furthest from the finish… but we’re heading the fleet.”

Indeed, for this 15th edition, the various fleets of boats aren’t all sailing the exact same course, since the latter has been geared around the different sizes and speed potential of the competing craft. The Class 40s must cover 4,800 nautical miles by leaving Cape Verde to starboard, while the Ocean Fiftys and the Imocas must sail 5,800 miles with the Fernando de Noronha archipelago as their waypoint and, finally, the Ultimes must sail a long 7,500-mile circuit leaving the Brazilian archipelago of Trindade and Martim Vaz in their wake.

Since early afternoon, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild has been heading due north, back up towards the equator and then the southern gateway into the Intertropical Convergence Zone, where another course mark awaits. Thanks to the trade wind of the southern hemisphere, this return leg promises to be quick with the wind perfectly aligned so that the 32-metre giants can finally express their true potential. However, if we’re to believe the latest weather forecasts, the wind gods aren’t quite done yet with giving the Coffee Route sailors a rough ride. In fact, a windless zone could well prove to be a stumbling block in the very last section of the race off the coast of northern Brazil and then along the shores of Guyana and Venezuela.

Watch this space…

Images from the ocean, day 10 – Approaching Trindade

Heading the Transat Jacques Vabre for the 8th consecutive day, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier are continuing to make headway towards the virtual course mark of Trindade and Martim Vaz in the South Atlantic; a GPS point which they’re set to reach at midday. From there, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will once again be able to head northwards and back towards the finish, which will be a positive step for her skippers: “Roll-on the point where we head back. We’re finally going to be closing on the finish line rather than distancing ourselves from it…”, Franck Cammas says into Charles Caudrelier’s microphone. This sentiment will be heightened by the fact that in the vicinity of the Brazilian archipelago, the wind is set to ease, slowing the progress of the five-arrow maxi-trimaran and making conditions favourable for their pursuers once again.

Positions on Wednesday 17 November at 15:00 UTC
  1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (F. Cammas / C. Caudrelier) 3,296.2 miles from the finish
  2. Banque Populaire XI (A. Le Cléac’h / K. Escoffier) + 282.9 miles
  3. SVR - Lazartigue (F. Gabart / T. Laperche) + 399.4 miles
  4. Actual (Y. Le Blevec / A. Marchand) + 657 miles
  5. Sodebo (T. Coville / T.Rouxel) +   1,204.3 miles
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