The close-fought three-way battle for victory in the 2022 Route du Rhum has concluded with a new course record and win for Charles Caudrelier
Charles Caudrelier sailing his Ultime trimaran Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was first to cross the finish line of the 2022 Route du Rhum race in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloup with a finishing time of 6 days 19 hours 47 minutes and 25 seconds.
This finishing time is a new (yet to be ratified) course record for the Route du Rhum with Caudrelier beating the previous best set in the last race by Francis Joyon of 7 days 14 hours 21 minutes and 47 seconds, despite conditions being far from favourable.
After the line an emotional Caudrelier said, “I’m not even tired. The first 24 hours were hard. I so wanted to win the race for the team. I’ve been dreaming of it since I was young. It’s for the family Rothschild. It seemed like a crazy idea, building a boat that could fly. It’s for Franck Cammas, as he had the experience. Without him I wouldn’t be here. He left me the place for the Rhum. He could have won it himself. It’s a Formula 1 team and I just drive in the race. This is a team effort and there’s Guillaume Verdier, the designer. I recently lost my mother and she isn’t here to share this moment. Thanks to everyone for believing in me.”
It has been an impressively close battle between the top three Ultime trimarans throughout much of the 3,542 mile race. Caudrelier led the fleet from the start but has not had things all his own way.
Initially the race committee claimed he was one of several boats over the starline and as such would need to stop for four hours. However, Caudrelier’s race team provided a significant amount of GPS data to the race officials to show that he was actually some distance behind the startline at the gun and the penalty was dropped.
Although he led out of the start and at the finish, the lead swapped between Caudrelier and François Gabart (sailing his SVR-Lazartigue Ultime) on a number of occasions as the huge foiling multihulls navigated several complex light wind transitions. But is was Caudrelier in the lead most of the time, with his gap to Gabart remaining around 40nm for much of the Atlantic crossing with a maximum gap to second of a little over 100nm.
For his part, Gabart is set to finish shortly picking up his second consecutive second place in the Route du Rhum having lost victory to Francis Joyon in the dying minues of the 2018 edition of the Route du Rhum.
Thomas Coville on Sodebo Ultim 3 also remained in close contention with the lead two boats throughout this year’s Route du Rhum and was close enough to be consistently putting pressure on Gabart in second.
Route du Rhum still close for the other fleets
Further back, in the middle of the Atlantic, Charlie Dalin (Apivia) remains the clear leader of the IMOCA 60 fleet – a position he has held since the fleet sailed out of the English channel shortly after the start of the race. But a singnificant lead for Dalin has been reduced as he was the first to hit a lighter weather front allowing the rest of the fleet to close on him.
This gateway to the trade winds is very narrow and keeps changing for the IMOCA 60 fleet and is causing headaches for those in the tight pack immediately behind Dalin. “As long as we haven’t slipped under the area of high pressure and crossed the ridge, it’s going to be complicated,” commented Jérémie Beyou (Charal) early in the morning on Wednesday 16th November.
The winds are light and variable going from 6 to 13 knots. “I’m getting passed by Thomas (Ruyant). He is two miles above me, but I can’t find the wind here… It’s complicated with a lot of people around me, but that does offer the advantage of indicating where the wind is. Losing or gaining places happens very quickly, when it’s close like this.” His lead of ten miles over Paul Meilhat (Biotherm) and Thomas Ruyant (LinkedOut) has quickly vanished.
There is a similar situation with the Ocean Fifty boats with the gaps narrowing between the three frontrunners, Quentin Vlamynck (Arkema), Erwan Le Roux (Koesio) and Sébastien Rogues (Primonial). Eighty miles separated the three yesterday, but now the gap is down to less than 25.
Things are slightly different for the Class40 boats with Yoann Richomme, skipper of Paprec Arkea leading the fleet since Monday afternoon. He continues to extend his lead and is now thirty miles ahead of Corentin Douguet (Quéguiner – Innoveo). “I’m trying to sail well and keep cool. There is another front moving in from the west. We have to get in the right place to deal with it. I’ll be trying to cross it where there is the smallest risk. The weather changes very quickly. I’ll try to avoid the calms, as it would be a pity to get stuck in there. We have to remain on it. The gateway is narrow and changing all the time. This is a critical and crucial moment in the race,” concluded Yoann Richomme.
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