The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild team has said this morning that their ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest leading skipper Charles Caudrelier has made the decision to put his race on hold for an indefinite period because of the weather conditions which were expected for his passage of Cape Horn. “They are absolutely incompatible with progress and so we have chosen to be patient.” explains Caudrelier.
Blocking the route are violent winds of 50 to 70 knots with very heavy seas, all created by two depressions. To pass the rugged coast of Tierra del Fuego and the famous Cape Horn would be a perilous mission. So Caudrelier and his routing team made the decision this morning to put the race on ‘pause the race.’ Their team press release this morning said “This is a choice which is essential for the preservation of man and machine”.
Caudrelier was due to pass Cape Horn this Sunday, February 4. However, a southern oceans depression is in the North-East and a second is forming in the North.
“In the coming days, these two systems will meet and merge, it will be explosive,” explains Erwan Israel from the Gitana routing cell. “Gusts over 70 knots are expected. This decision is obvious. It was just not possible to move towards the Horn with such a weather scenario. It was an ambush that would have closed in on us with no possible escape since in the South we are limited by the Antarctic Exclusion Zone.”
“This is the first time in my life that such a situation has happened to me in a race,” admits Charles Caudrelier. “We have chosen to be patient. I want to keep things in perspective. We have a boat and a skipper in great shape. I keep smiling and I remain positive even if I will surely be chomping at the bit to see the miles to the finish keep dropping. A week ahead is perhaps a lot. But Cape Horn with more than a day in advance, is something any round the world racer dreams of and I think I will have more than that.” In the lead of the ARKÉA ULTIM CHALLENGE-Brest for 17 days, the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild is currently more than 3,400 miles ahead of his leading pursuers.
“This seems to give him a passage at Cape Horn next Tuesday,” suggests Guillaume Rottee Race Director. ”Getting round Cape Horn would have been very problematic, upwind in very harsh conditions. Now Charles will slow down, between five and ten knots, so as not to progress too far to the East.”
And so according to the race management, he should pass Cape Horn “next Tuesday at best”. Among the consequences of this stop, there is the fact that Armel Le Cléac’h (2nd) will be able to get slightly closer to the leader. “We would then expect that there will be a four-day gap between the boats as they pass Charles’ Cape Horn.”
And the situation is not simple for Thomas Coville. Arriving in Hobart on Wednesday, the skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 still has to wait as there are two depressions which are forecast with particularly bad seas. “The most reasonable thing would be to wait until the end of the day tomorrow to leave.” Says Rottee
Anthony Marchand (Actual Ultim 3), stuck in a light zone for a long time, is starting to feel some wind again. The situation is the opposite for Éric Péron (ULTIM ACTUAL) who comes up against a soft spot. Note that Anthony Marchand is expected at Cape Leeuwin next Tuesday.