The first finishers of this year’s Route du Rhum will cross the line in Pointe-a-Pitre today after little more than 7 days of racing.
One of the most difficult parts of this race is the finish – the course takes the sailors north of Guadeloupe and down, around the western island of Basse Terre, then back up to Pointe-a-Pitre on the island of Grande Terre – effectively looping around Guadeloupe. This makes it particularly difficult because of the wind shadows on the western side of the islands; sometimes boats can be stuck in patches of no wind for hours in this part of the course.
Charles Caudrelier (Maxi Edmond de Rothschild) has led the gigantic Ultim fleet pretty much from the get-go, showing his dominance in the fleet isn’t isolated to double-handed and crewed events. This is Charles’ first single-handed race onboard his huge foiling trimaran, and one I’m sure he will be happy to remember. Charles is en route to break the course record, set in 2018 by Francis Joyon, of 7 days, 14 hours and 21 minutes.
In second place is François Gabart (SVR Lazartigue) just over 30nm behind Charles. Over the last few days, François has managed to slowly chip away at the lead Charles built up, but it wasn’t quite enough in the end.
Thomas Coville (Sodebo) will also likely finish today, some 120nm behind the leader and bearing down on Guadeloupe at a little less than 30 knots. It looked like Thomas had closed the gap to those in front as they came into the trades a few days ago, but it seems he just doesn’t have the speed that François and Charles do.
Charles is expected to finish between 0830 and 0930 UK time, and François an hour or two later – if he doesn’t get caught in the light winds behind the islands! You can watch the finish on the Route du Rhum Youtube: https://youtu.be/RXtyaNTB4Qc