With Arkea Ultim Challenge leader Charles Caudrelier far enough ahead the rest of the six boat fleet to push the pause button to allow a nasty Southern Ocean storm system to pass before he presses on to Cape Horn, his previous Edmond de Rothschild co-skipper Franck Cammas had this to say about his friend’s performance so far. though he put his race ‘on hold’ yesterday, Charles Caudrelier has dominated the race for 18 days. How do you view his race?
Well after the Equator he really had an ideal scenario, it was like in a movie. I think it is what he would have dreamed of before the start: he had great sequences with manageable conditions most of the time which allowed him to go fast and directly. It really was the perfect transition sequence into the South. Charles went fast when he had to and he knew how to take advantage of the excellent reliability of his boat.
As someone who was part of the Edmond de Rothschild team, the reliability of the boat did not surprise you?
No, especially since he has mostly stayed at reasonable speed. I spoke to Charles twice on the phone, and he told me that he was in management mode, that he wasn’t pushing his boat at all and he had no reason to do so. It was obviously very much more intense when Tom (Laperche) was next to him: he was more in “Route du Rhum” mode then rather than round the world mode. Maybe at the beginning the pace was too high for a round the world. But he knew how to adapt, find the right tempo, adopt the pace of a good marathon runner to hold on.
And meanwhile all the other competitors have had to pitstop. What does this tell you?
That is obviously a scenario that we did not really want. Apart from Tom (Laperche) and Éric (Péron), everyone could perhaps have continued if they really had to, even if it was complicated. The IMOCAs (the Vendée Globe boats) can lose 30% of their capacity but you can continue to perform. There, with Ultims, the loss is enormous when you go from 100% of the boat’s potential to 70%. And the differences quickly become very significant.
Even now with Charles until this weekend no one has really been spared by the weather conditions?
As with record attempts, there is also a large element of luck, especially when entering the roaring 40s. One day you can have perfect sequences and the next you can have a catastrophic sequence. It would not have taken much more for Thomas (Coville) to take the same front as Charles and Tom and for Armel to be able to follow them without his damage in the Atlantic. When you’re not in the right system, that’s you and it can stay like that all the way around Antarctica.
This is the first Ultim solo race around the world. What assessment do you make at mid-term?
I was pleasantly surprised by what happened up to the Equator. When you know the magic of these boats, it was great to follow, quite breathtaking. As spectators, we are a little disappointed with what happened next with the multiple damages. We would all have liked there to be less than 500 miles between the first three or four at Cape Horn!
You have already rounded Cape Horn several times. How does it feel you when get there?
It’s liberating. It is your deliverance [from the Southern Ocean]. When you go around the world Cape Horn is your Everest. It can be seen to be a difficult summit to reach, it is the end of the tunnel. You have had tough conditions for a fortnight and finally you find yourself in conditions and an environment that then start improving. Your state of mind changes: you take comfort, you go back towards the tropics, you have a little more peace of mind.