For several days, the succession of grib files which Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have been studying with the router and 7th man, Marcel van Triest, have been in agreement that it will soon be time for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild to cast off and set sail. This Thursday, all the lights are taking on a strong yellow hue as they prepare to switch to green. All the members of the five-arrow racing stable have been on the alert for the past few days so as not to let slide this fine opportunity taking shape ahead of the offshore charger’s bows. This Saturday 9 January 2021, the six sailors on this trimaran designed for oceanic flight could well make for the start zone off the island of Ushant with a view to setting sail on this outright round the world record attempt.
“We’re attacking the start of the 3rd month of standby… It’s a long time, but there have been times where we’ve been certain that nothing interesting would happen in terms of the weather. During that time, we can turn our thoughts to other things and practice some sport. And then there are situations, like those of recent days, where we’re eyeing up a departure and hesitating… That involves a bit of travelling around and a series of PCR tests… And then in the end we don’t leave. These more uncertain periods are a bit less fun. We’re on the alert and it’s more complicated for the nerves, especially with regards family. We say goodbye to the children, but we don’t know if it’s going to be for 3 days… or 40 days. The ideal standby occurs when it doesn’t take too long and an extraordinary window presents itself after a week or a fortnight. Unfortunately, that’s not the way things have played out.
Right now, there’s a departure situation settling into place with a lot of downwind conditions and N’ly winds generated by a zone of high pressure. That’s giving us a slightly broader target window. However, there’s also a zone of low pressure, which is blocking the way a little at the start. It’s fairly violent, so we’d like it to roll across to the east so we have a clearer passage through to the trade wind. We’d like to set off as late as possible, but waiting around also carries the risk of us ending up in a position where we don’t have any breeze at all on the start line.”
“It’s my first standby. I’ve never experienced this type of preparation and this waiting period before. It’s a special time, but I’m lucky to be in contact with people who have already had to negotiate this type of experience. It’s part and parcel of such a challenge. For the past two months, we’ve had several situations where we were ready to leave and we even set sail once before quickly turning back. These attempts within an attempt are good training and help us ready ourselves in terms of gear and also on a more psychological level, to ensure we’re in race mode the minute we cast off and bid farewell. These are demanding boats after all and an error is never far away. You really have to concentrate from the get-go. That said, it’s fair to say that as time goes on, the more eager you are to set sail… At that point it’ll be time to go for it, which is fortunate as now’s the right time!
Since Tuesday evening, a variety of possible options have opened up, with a fairly long window in the North Atlantic, which enables us to wait and see how things evolve in the South Atlantic. We’re going to gradually increase the pressure and finish off the final preparations. The boat is ready to go. She’s loaded with provisions and all that remains is to add a little fresh produce and head towards the start line!”