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Arkéa Ultim Challenge: after its shock with the OFNI, no abandonment for Laperche

The duel flowed suddenly.

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Arkéa Ultim Challenge: after its shock with the OFNI, no abandonment for Laperche

The duel flowed suddenly. The fault lies with a container, a log or (unfortunately) perhaps a cetacean, such as a whale or orca. The shock was violent with the central drift of Tom Laperche's giant trimaran, launched at 35 knots (more than 60 km/h), this Thursday at 5:30 a.m. To the point of seriously damaging the daggerboard well and causing a significant leak into the central hull of the SVR Lazartigue multihull. Quickly mastered by the young winner of the Solitaire du Figaro 2022.

“ I felt a huge shock in a huge crash. Hitting the daggerboard damaged the bottom of the hull and, in a fraction of a second, water entered the central portion. I walked around the boat and realized that the boat remained controllable. We quickly had to slow down as much as possible and roll up the sails. We must now bring the boat back as undamaged as possible and then find the best solutions for the future,” declared Tom Laperche a few hours later, on the way to Cape Town in South Africa, without mentioning for the moment a decision, to repair or give up, for the future. The priority was to bring the boat, and therefore its sailor, back to port.

“It's super hard, for the boat, for me and the whole team with all these people who worked so that the Trimaran SVR-Lazartigue was at the start and that after ten days of racing we were at the head of the fleet on a world tour. We now have to manage these four days at sea without it getting any worse. I managed to set the boat in the right direction and not to go too fast. I will monitor water levels and drift movements. We still have 35 knots of wind but it should ease in a little over a day with calmer seas. I remain in contact with the whole team and we will try to find the best solutions to reach Cape Town,” also indicated François Gabart’s successor at the helm of the blue trimaran.

Nevertheless, this desperate encounter, but unfortunately common when approaching the Cape of Good Hope, put an end to the magnificent mano a mano which opposed Tom Laperche and Charles Caudrelier (trimaran Edmond de Rothschild) at the head of the Arkéa Ultim Challenge, the new round-the-world race contested on giant, flying 32-meter trimarans. Since the big departure from Brest on January 7, the two sailors had not let go of each other's boat shoes, heading towards the great south at already incredible speeds (835 miles, or 1,500 kilometers swallowed by Caudrelier in 24 hours, Thursday morning), and dropping their four rivals. The most dangerous of them, Armel Le Cléac'h, having had to make a pit stop for a little over 24 hours in Recife (Brazil) to change a front balcony and resolve sail and foil problems on his Banque Populaire Thomas Coville (Sodebo 3) managed to limit the damage, with only 650 miles (1,200 kilometers) of outlays.

Behind, Anthony Marchand (Actual 3) was shortly ahead of Le Cléac'h and, like him, was going to have to deal with a perfectly misplaced Saint Helena anticyclone, Eric Péron (Adaggio), the red lantern on his old boat, coming, all just to cross the equator and reach the Southern Hemisphere.

Now alone in the lead, Charles Caudrelier obviously does not have a race won, while the Cape of Good Hope and then the terrible Indian and Pacific Oceans await his passage before the mythical Cape Horn. The road is still long. And like Laperche, he will never be safe from a destructive shock with these famous UFOs (unidentified floating objects). “I have a little less pressure now, we have to change the way we navigate,” he admitted as he entered the forties. The sky is now gray, the temperature has dropped several degrees. And Caudrelier, winner of the last Route du rhum, lost his favorite rival. “I wouldn’t have been able to do what he does at 25,” he said as a tribute.

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