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Coville Round Cape Horn in Ultim Challenge, Le Cléac'h Peaks at 47 knots!

12th February 2024
Armel Le Cleac'h on the Max trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire XI has hit a speed of 47 knots in the Ultim Challenge race
Armel Le Cleac'h on the Max trimaran Maxi Banque Populaire XI has hit a speed of 47 knots in the Ultim Challenge race

Very early Monday morning, at 00:40hrs UTC, Thomas Coville, skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 passed Cape Horn in third place on the Ultim Challenge solo round the world race. Coville crossed almost five days after race leader Charles Caudrelier and less than 24 hours after second placed Armel Le Cléac'h. His elapsed time to the Cape since the start is 35 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes of racing. All three top skippers are now racing in in the Atlantic.

“I think Cape Horn one of the most fascinating places for a sailor”. Said Coville yesterday, a few hours before rounding Cape Horn. He spoke of a huge level of relief and described Ferdinand Magellan as "the greatest sailor of all time".

“There were too many clouds for me to see the snow-capped mountains,” Coville said this morning. “But it's a pretty fantastic place, it marks something very strong. It's the tipping point."

The skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 had to manoeuvre a lot in order to get quite close to the rocks," reported Guillaume Evrard from Race Direction. “ He was forecast to have 25 to 30 knots with 3.5 meters of swell and that will build during the day with a second very substantial depression which will catch up with him this evening.”

Le Cléac'h and Caudrelier, each dealing with their own realities

More than 200 miles further north, second placed Armel Le Cléac'h is closing the Argentinian coast. Looking to avoid this same depression as threatens Coville, he chose to sail along Tierra del Fuego. “Even though he had a lot of winds (up to 45 knots, top speeds of more than 40 knots), that route allowed him to have conditions that were a little less strong and a little more manageable,” explains Evrard. “In the last few hours, he had 42 knots of wind and was ‘speed gunned’ at 47 knots!

Leader Charles Caudrelier is making progress not far from the Brazilian coast. "He's continuing his upwind climb and looking for the strongest vein of wind. As soon as it gets light he tacks to take advantage of the coastal effects. He will continue upwind until this evening when he will start a tack, the end of the manoeuvres for a long climb up the coast of Brazil towards the north before heading a bit more east.”

Marchand adapts, Péron progresses

Anthony Marchand continues to make progress in the Pacific Ocean. The skipper of Actual Ultim 3 is at the back of a small depression. “He’s making an average of 25 knots with 25 knots of wind, which shows that the boat is far from being at 100% of its capacity,” says Evrard. “He is in southwesterly winds and is expected to remain in this flow until Wednesday.”

And Éric Péron runs along the AEZ and has passed the longitude of Tasmania.
"He will benefit from winds that will strengthen from the northwest and a depression will accompany it to the middle of the Pacific. The skipper of ULTIM ADAGIO could enjoy some nice straight line speed which he ca maintain without maneuvers until next Thursday.”

Published in Ultim Challenge
Andi Robertson

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Andi Robertson

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Andi Robertson is an international sailing journalist based in Scotland

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About the Ultim Challenge

The ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest, which starts from Brest, France on Sunday, 7 January, will be the first-ever solo race around the world on giant Ultim trimarans, the biggest and fastest ocean-going sailboats in the world.

The inaugural six competitors of the Arkea Ultim Challenge - Brest are:

  • Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild)
  • Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim 3)
  • Tom Laperche (SVR - Lazartigue)
  • Armel Le Cléac'h (Banque Populaire XI)
  • Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3)
  • Éric Péron (ADAGIO) - subject to qualification.