Ascension Island astern and Martinique ahead for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

Ascension Island astern and Martinique ahead for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

Ascension Island astern and Martinique ahead for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild


By Gitana
08/11/2023 - 20:51

Since yesterday, and the Imocas' morning departure from Le Havre, the whole of the Transat Jacques Vabre 2023 fleet has been doing battle on the Atlantic Ocean. However, as the Vendée Globe monohulls begin their 2nd day at sea, for the ULTIMs, this Wednesday 8 November heralds the 10th day of racing. Shortly after 14:00 UTC, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild rounded the course mark of Ascension Island at 8° South in third place, with a deficit of around five hours in relation to the top duo.

This eagerly awaited passage around the British island marked not only the start of the final section of the course to Martinique, but also the end of a very long beat that began on exiting the doldrums three days earlier. The five-arrow giant is now sailing downwind, her favourite point of sail according to her skipper, with 3,000 miles to go until the finish in Martinique. Despite the ground lost over the past 24 hours, Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israël are attacking this new section of the race with real determination. Indeed, the battle is far from over and the sailors are well aware that their machines can play catch up, but also fall off the pace, in the blink of an eye.

Ascension Island, time to finally set a direct course for the finish

In the ULTIM category, the southernmost course mark of this 2023 route, has led the five crews all the way down to Ascension Island. This 91 km2 volcanic island, which rises up in the middle of the South Atlantic, forms part of the British Overseas Territory along with Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha. It is an atypical destination for offshore racers and reaching it has been quite a feat for the men of Gitana Team. Close-hauled in a shifty and rather lacklustre SE'ly trade wind – between 12 and 18 knots – Charles Caudrelier and Erwan Israël have linked together a series of tacks over the past 24 hours and more: "We're 100 miles from Ascension Island and it's safe to say that it's a long way away! We're not used to doing such long beats with the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild," revealed the skipper in a video sent from the boat shortly after 08:00 UTC.

"The good news is that the mark is around a hundred miles away now. The bad news is that two of our rivals are in the process of rounding it now! We haven't been very successful if we look at the ranking, because one of the top boats making the rounding was still with us yesterday and Banque Populaire is behind them now. Though we can say that we've closed on Banque Populaire, we've also lost a lot of ground in relation to SVR-Lazartigue, with whom we were previously in contact. François and Tom made a fantastic comeback on the upwind sprint."

3,000 miles of downwind conditions

Happy to leave Ascension Island in the wake of their flying maxi-trimaran and get back onto a point of sail more favourable for speed, the crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild would naturally have preferred to be level with today's escapees, SVR-Lazartigue and the Maxi Banque Populaire XI. Instead, at 16:00 UTC this Wednesday, the men of Gitana Team lamented a deficit of 136 miles in relation to the leader. Charles Caudrelier reviewed the circumstances of the miles amassed over the past few hours: "Right now it's rather nice. We've been under the tropics for several days and we're flying along, which is great. The wind is a little stronger today, which suits us better, because yesterday and the day before yesterday, in a lighter wind, we were less at ease and then we attempted some slight separation, which cost us dearly. We had less breeze than our rivals and it wasn't in the right direction so it wasn't easy as there were a lot of cloud masses. Did we handle it badly? Were we unlucky? It's always very hard to know. We fell off the pace at that point and afterwards those in front held onto the wind and the right rotations."

 In any case, this afternoon the leading ULTIMs passed under the barrier of 3,000 miles to go to the finish. In the meantime though, the giants will have to make the switch back into the northern hemisphere and then make their way along the north coast of Latin America bound for the Antilles arc and then on to Fort-de France, where the finish will be decided on the evening of Sunday 12 November at the earliest: "Erwan and I are focusing on what comes next now. There is still a long way to go and we'll be sailing downwind, which is a point of sail which suits our boat quite well as far as we've seen since the start of the race. The battle is far from over. Plenty could happen between now and the finish. We're eager to sail downwind so we can pick up the pace," assured Charles Caudrelier. 

 At the 16:00 UTC position report, he'd got his wish and the Verdier design was powering along downwind and was polled making over 34 knots!

Ranking ULTIM - Transat Jacques Vabre

Position report on 8 November, 19:00 hours

1) SVR Lazartigue - François Gabart - Tom Laperche at 2 843 miles from the finish

2) Maxi Banque Populaire XI - Armel Le Cléac'h / Sébastien Josse à 8,9 miles du leader

3) Maxi Edmond de Rothschild - Charles Caudrelier / Erwan Israël at 142,1 miles 
4) Sodebo Ultim 3 - Thomas Coville - Thomas Rouxel at 423,8 miles

5) Actual Ultim 3 - Anthony Marchand / Thierry Chabagny at 524,5 miles

 Charles Caudrelier / Erwan Israël
Charles Caudrelier

Skipper, 7th participation

 Since 2019, Charles Caudrelier has been the skipper of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. At the helm of this revolutionary flying maxi-trimaran, the sailor with one of the finest track records in offshore racing has won it all, culminating in the winner's crown and the event record in last November's Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe 2022 after 6 days 19 hours 47 min 25 seconds of racing. A brilliant victory, it showcased the sailor's massive talent and treated Gitana Team to a double event win after its victory in this legendary race in 2006. Over the next few months, the skipper will take on another extraordinary challenge: the first single-handed round the world race for large offshore flying trimarans. An amazing and unprecedented sporting and human challenge Charles is due to set sail on 7 January 2024.

 Extracts from the major victories in his track record

1 x Solitaire du Figaro 2004

3 x Transat Jacques Vabres (2009, 2013, 2021)

2 x Volvo Ocean Races (2011-2012 // 2017-2018)

1 x Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe (2022)

 Sailor of the year 2018

 Aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

- Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 and 2021

- Brest Atlantiques 2019 

- Drheam Cup 2020

- Transat Jacques Vabre 2021

- Finistère Atlantique – Challenge - Action Enfance 2022

- 24H Ultim

- Route du Rhum ) Destination Guadeloupe 2022

Erwan Israël 

Co-skipper, Transat Jacques Vabre debut

 Trained at the Olympic school in the south of France (Laser), Erwan Israël boasts an eclectic career and track record: cruiser-racing, match racing, Figaro, circumnavigations of the globe, records... his experience is diverse and extensive! Dabbling in everything, this discreet sailor is also a formidable competitor. A fine tactician, an extraordinary trimmer and a seasoned helmsman, Erwan Israël has managed to carve out a niche for himself among the very best, both on the water and on shore. Indeed, for several years, he's specialised in navigation and weather routing, to the point that he's become one of the great experts in the domain. Since 2019, as part of Gitana Team, when he's not at sea racing as a crew, Erwan Israël routes the skippers of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild for victory, as was the case in 2021 in the Transat Jacques Vabre and last year's Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe of course. The Coffee Route 2023 will be his very first double-handed transatlantic race.

 Extracts from his track record

World No.2 in Match Racing (2008)
Tour de France à la Voile: 3 victories, in the amateur category (2001) and overall (2005 and 2007 with TPM COYCH)
3rd rookie in the Solitaire du Figaro (2006)
World No.2 in Match Racing (2008)
Winner of the Volvo Ocean Race (2011-2012 with Groupama)
New Discovery Route record with Spindrift 2 (2013) in 6 days 14h
3rd fastest time in history in the Jules Verne Trophy with Spindrift 2 in 47 days 10h 59 min (2015 / 2016) // unbeaten record
Winner of the Bol d'Or Mirabaud (2016 in D35 and 2021 in TF35)

Victories aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild

- Rolex Fastnet Race 2019 and 2021

- Finistère Atlantique – Challenge - Action Enfance 2022

Thalia Marine brings engineering excellence to the Viken Group’s proposition
Atlantic Cluster Nouvelle Aquitaine region at the Metstrade