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The Ultim 32/23, the challenge of the giants

Eight skippers will set off on La Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe aboard these multihulls of more than 30 meters. The latest innovations and technological advances allow the newest not only to fly but also to stay there as long as possible, which could panic the counters. The appetite of these giants for victory could also shatter the record held for four years by Francis Joyon (7 days, 14 hours, 21 minutes).

A battle above the water, a breathtaking sprint and a confrontation between the fastest and most efficient sailing boats in offshore racing, these behemoths measuring 32 meters long and 23 meters wide. The Ultim 32/23 promise a great show during the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe and this will begin as soon as they arrive in Saint-Malo. Moreover, these giants of the seas will for the first time be moored in the basins alongside the other participants. They will also take part in the parade, scheduled for Tuesday October 25, alongside the Ocean Fifty.

The game looks particularly open

From the start, Sunday November 7, the Ultim32/23 will set the pace to engage in a “match within the match” which promises to be high-flying. Four years after the duel narrowly won by Francis Joyon (IDEC) ahead of François Gabart, the game looks particularly open between the contenders for final victory. If Charles Caudrelier (48 years old) will compete in his first solo transatlantic aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, his maxi-trimaran has been carefully tested and made reliable, while delivering convincing results since its launch in July 2017. Despite an aborted attempt around the world (November 2020), he won in the double-handed race in the Transat Jacques Vabre (November 2021), as a crew in the pre-season races (July 2022) and solo during an early confrontation october.

During the Finistère Atlantique, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild battled for a long time with the Maxi Banque Populaire XI, 2nd at 26 minutes after more than 3,100 miles covered. After two years of construction and a launch in April 2021, Armel Le Cléac'h has already completed the equivalent of a world tour on board, including a 3rd place in the Transat Jacques Vabre (2021). Four years after capsizing, the skipper once again presents himself as one of the favorites for the event.

Alongside them, François Gabart, already winner of the IMOCA event in 2014 and 2nd in the last edition, will line up SVR-Lazartigue. Launched in July 2021, 2nd in the Transat Jacques Vabre, the skipper distinguished himself by setting the Mediterranean record this summer. He worked hard to refine his automatisms on board, having not competed in a solo race since the last Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe.

Varied profiles and different approaches

The title holder, Francis Joyon, is also back. Aboard a boat, IDEC, undefeated during the last three editions (in 2014 under the colors of Banque Populaire and in 2010 with Groupama), he will try to take up the incredible challenge of achieving a second consecutive victory. Only Laurent Bourgnon had achieved this before him in a multihull (1992, 1998). “ I know that I have a small chance of winning, even if it is the 17th year of my boat ,” smiles Francis Joyon.

He will line up in particular against Thomas Coville who is preparing to compete in the legendary transatlantic race for the 7th time. The skipper of Sodebo does not lack ambition: he proved it during the 24H Ultim, by winning the speed runs then finishing 3rd (1 hour 38 minutes behind Charles Caudrelier). For his part, Yves Le Blevec (Actual) presents himself with serenity on the starting line. In addition to traditional preparation, he completed ten days of cycling (140 km daily) in order to perfect his physical and mental condition.

Aboard the ex-Actual renamed Mieux, Arthur Le Vaillant launched into Ultim 32/23 after races in Class40 and Ocean Fifty. Above all, he aspires to complete the race and enjoy the joys of arrival. At 34, Arthur wants to take the opportunity to pass on the messages that are important to him in terms of respect for the environment. An approach that brings him closer to Romain Pilliard (Use it Again! By Extia) who aspires to promote the circular economy. There will therefore be eight on the starting line and most have only one dream: to achieve a prestigious victory and the record for the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe, established 4 years ago at 7 days, 14 hours and 21 minutes.

They said

Armel Le Cléac'h (Maxi Banque Populaire XI) : “The Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe is a legendary race that has made me dream of since I was a kid. The Banque Populaire Team has invested tirelessly in designing the Maxi Banque Populaire XI, preparing it, testing it and making it reliable. Since its launch in April 2021, we have traveled the equivalent of a trip around the world. The last two editions of the Route du Rhum were painful for me (withdrawal in 2014, abandonment in 2018) but we know that we have to be perseverant, fight and not give up. In recent months, we have strived, during each sailing, to take care of every detail and to build confidence on board. This will be necessary before tackling the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe while being as well armed as possible. »

François Gabart (SVR-Lazartigue) : “My last solo race dates back to the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe 2018. On the other hand, I had the chance to sail quite a bit solo in previous years with the Transat Anglaise cycle in 2016 ( winner with MACIF), world tour in 2017 (record in 42 days 16h40'35'') and the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in 2018 (2nd). Despite this experience and these many miles in Ultim 32/23, it remains a very demanding exercise. Nothing is ever acquired, you always have to progress and it's exciting. It is both a physical and mental challenge and the two are inseparable, it is my vision of the search for excellence and performance. It remains an extraordinary privilege to sail solo on these boats. We must therefore take each solo navigation as a gift and enjoy being able to realize a childhood dream. »

Yves Le Blevec (Actual):I grew up with the Route du Rhum. I was 13 years old during the first edition and I lived it day by day. It was the first French transatlantic, there was a big fleet at the start and then the finish was completely legendary. The Route du Rhum has become a legend. And participating in it is also a way of entering into this legend. I had the privilege and pleasure of starting twice in the Multi50. Even if I managed to go to the end both times, I still have big regrets because nothing went as planned. Today I'm going there with a boat capable of winning. I'm certainly not the only one but it's possible: the boat is made for it, the team too, me too. Obviously, this edition therefore takes on a very special flavor. »


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