Charles Caudrelier, Franck Cammas and their crew left the port of Lorient at daybreak this Sunday 12 February to make for the Jules Verne Trophy start line offshore of the island of Ushant. On standby since late December, the men of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild have decided to try their luck, despite the rather atypical weather window. Gitana Team is preparing to take on an almighty challenge: to beat the famous record set by IDEC (2017) in 40 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes. Always an exciting and emotional moment, the passage across the line is scheduled for midday this Sunday. The timing will be tweaked during the delivery trip to Ushant in consultation with Marcel van Triest, router for the five-arrow team.
It’s the start of a great adventure and so begins at last an oceanic race against the clock and one of the most thrilling challenges on the sailing planet. Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas, two of the most experienced sailors in the discipline, together with their four crew, are preparing to make a bid for the Jules Verne Trophy, the outright record for circumnavigating the globe under sail, unassisted and without stopovers.
Gambling on a unique weather window
The build-up to this moment has required a great deal of patience, a careful study of the evolution of conditions and the hunt for a favourable weather sequence between the North Atlantic and the South Atlantic. The standby commenced on 22 December 2022, just weeks after Charles Caudrelier’s victory in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe. Since Friday, the meetings between the men of Gitana Team and their router, Marcel van Triest have been steadily increasing. Indeed, a window has opened up for the team to set sail from the north-west tip of Brittany, though it’s not an obvious one. Having deliberated for quite some time – the option looking less pertinent on Saturday morning – the situation turned around again in the hours leading up to the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild’s departure this Sunday morning from her port of registry in Lorient.
There’s no doubt that it’s a big gamble for the team, particularly in light of the atypical weather window. “It’s nigh on impossible to have the perfect scenario in any case,” Charles Caudrelier has admitted many times over recent weeks. Though the North Atlantic looks very favourable, the gateway into the South is not so obvious. Everyone knows that the team will need to give it their all, plus they’ll need an element of luck and success to facilitate their passage offshore.
Such are the intricacies of trying to establish a new record and the whole crew was well aware of this when casting off from the dock in Lorient this Sunday morning. Hearts were racing, faces became a little more intense and the ambiance was a mixture of excitement and heightened concentration. Indeed, at the end of this adventure, which will require everyone to give their best, there is an opportunity to rewrite history. On everyone’s minds is the previous record, set in 2017 by Francis Joyon and his men following an exceptional sequence of weather conditions: 40 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes.