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Arkéa Ultim Challenge: “It always does something”, Caudrelier recounts his arrival in the southern seas

“My race has changed.

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Arkéa Ultim Challenge: “It always does something”, Caudrelier recounts his arrival in the southern seas

“My race has changed.” In the third part of his logbook around the world, navigator Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild), broad leader of the Ultim Challenge, recounts how he approached the South Seas and discusses the consequences of his lead:

I've been in the South Seas for a few days and it's always something to go there. The atmosphere, the temperature, the mist, the light... everything changes. The water and air are very cold, the wind is violent when it hits your shoulders and the sea can be very messy.

It's a place where we rarely have any respite... For 15 to 20 days, we will experience a series of depressions. But at this stage, I have a pretty good weather forecast so I'm taking advantage of it.

Also read “The consequences of the slightest error will be enormous”: before an unprecedented world tour in Ultim, Charles Caudrelier confides in Le Figaro

I'm happy to have come first in the Indian Ocean. The North Atlantic was not very fast, but in the south, we caught a nice depression off the coast of Brazil. We were just ahead, with flat seas and wind. I couldn't have dreamed of anything better because the boat was moving on its own.

At the end, I slowed down, but I might even have been able to beat the 24-hour solo record (851 miles covered by François Gabart in 2017). This boat is so amazing.

The emulation with Tom (Laperche) was essential to achieve such a time (12 days 1 hour 14 minutes at Bonne-Espérance). We talked every day, we were a bit like traveling companions and we pulled each other out in a very friendly way. I am very sad for what happened to him (major damage after a collision). He's someone I admire a lot and this could have happened to me too.

However, it would be a lie to say that there isn't a small part of me that is more relaxed now. He pushed me around, it was extremely tiring and there, that's one less serious competitor. If he were still here, I would be a lot more tired.

My running has changed now. With such a lead, we will be able to choose not to take the optimal routes, but those which preserve the boat. We can try to avoid areas of heavy seas.

It's a bit strange, I've spent my life trying to go faster by boat, counting each mile and now I'm limiting my speed and looking for less sea. It's a luxury incredible and this is the particularity of this challenge which is almost an elimination race. My advance is of no use to me if I break the boat.

For now, it is in good condition and I have no technical problems. So obviously, morale is good. We are in front and the conditions are rather easy. But I don't have time to be bored. Either I sleep, or I tinker, I tidy up or I do the dishes. I find myself having a lot of fun at sea even though, unlike other sailors, I am not someone who dreams of spending weeks alone. Besides, I try to put some mental barriers in place so as not to think too much about the earth.

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