Arkea Ultim Challenge – Brest
Arkéa, a major player in sports sponsorship that has been active in ocean racing for several years, has become, on behalf of all the subsidiaries of the Bancassurance Crédit Mutuel Arkéa group, title partner of the first two editions of the solo Ultim round the world race organized by OC Sport Pen Duick.
The race will bring together the skippers of the Ultim 32/23 Class – the best sailors on the planet – and the most innovative and demanding ocean-going multihulls. An extraordinary human and technological challenge that will no doubt mark a significant moment in the history of ocean sailing.
Five world-class skippers are already registered for this exceptional race and there will potentially be seven ‘Giants of the Seas’ that set off from Brest to attempt to complete a circumnavigation of the world from West to East, via the 3 Capes (Good Hope, Leewin and Horn). It will be a human and technological challenge carried by the sailors of the Ultim 32/23 Class supported by their owners and partners.
While well-known sailors such as Francis Joyon, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Thomas Coville and François Gabart have already completed the course solo in multihulls and none have ever done so in a race.
Alone on their giant multihulls for 40 to 50 days, the skippers will be subjected to extreme variations in weather conditions and will have to deal with wind, waves, swell and ice. The anticyclonic systems, with little wind, as well as the depressions, most often the source of strong winds, will dictate the life of the sailors on board and will influence the strategies adopted.
The race around the world will start with the descent of the Atlantic, followed by the crossing of the Indian Ocean and then the Pacific Ocean, before heading north again up the Atlantic.
First, between Brest and the Cape of Good Hope, the route is punctuated by the passage from one hemisphere to the other through the Doldrums. The atmosphere in this area mixes hot and humid air masses carried by the trade winds of the Azores anticyclone in the North Atlantic, and that of Saint Helena in its southern equivalent. They generate unstable air where calms and stormy squalls alternate without any real logic, requiring increased vigilance on this first part of the race to get out of this trap as quickly as possible.
Then comes the longest and most difficult part, which requires the skippers to seize the weather phenomena coming from the west to glide between Good Hope and Cape Horn via Cape Leeuwin. This crossing of the two oceans of the southern hemisphere – the Indian and the Pacific – makes up three-fifths of the solo round the world trip. It requires sailors to maintain their trajectory on a downwind train while coping with sequences of disturbances driven by powerful north-westerly winds, passages of fronts with squalls and icy wind shifts. A demanding mixture for sailors as well as for machines.
Finally, the passing of the mythical Cape Horn marks the ascent to Brest, with around 8,000 miles still to go before the finish. The competitors will once again have to contend with the Saint Helena anticyclone, the stormy depressions in Brazil, the Doldrums, the trade winds from the northern hemisphere, and potential Atlantic depressions requiring intense concentration right until the very end, as the skippers cross the long-awaited finish line in the harbour of Brest.
A new challenge for OC Sport Pen Duick, organizer of the biggest offshore races
OC Sport Pen Duick, a subsidiary and the sports event branch of the Télégramme Group, is well known for organising leading offshore races including the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, the Solitaire du Figaro, The Transat CIC and the Transat en Double Concarneau – Saint Barthélemy.
The Arkéa Ultim Challenge – Brest is a major new challenge and one which the company will bring its years of expertise in the sector to organising, supported and amplified by the commitment of Arkéa and the city of Brest.
This solo round the world race will undoubtedly be unique and will highlight values shared by the sailors, the organiser, and partners: emotion, determination and humility.