ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE - Brest: first solo round-the-world race aboard an Ultim 32/23!

Concept - The race

They will be five "giants of the seas" setting sail from Brest, with a solo skipper on board, in an attempt to complete a round-the-world voyage from West to East, via the 3 capes (Good Hope, Leeuwin and Horn). A human and technological challenge taken up by the sailors in the Ultim 32/23 Class, accompanied by their owners and partners.

Some of them have already sailed the course in multihulls and single-handed: Francis Joyon, Dame Ellen MacArthur, Thomas Coville, François Gabart; notably as part of campaigns to break the solo round-the-world sailing record, but none of them has ever done it in a race!

Alone, on their giant multihulls, for 40 to 50 days, the skippers will be subjected to extreme variations in weather conditions and will have to deal with wind, waves, swell and ice. High-pressure systems, light winds and lows, which are more often than not the source of strong winds, will punctuate the lives of the sailors on board and influence the trajectory strategies adopted.

Sailing around the world is first and foremost a climatic voyage: the descent of the Atlantic, the crossing of the Indian Ocean and then the Pacific, before heading north again by sailing back up the Atlantic...

Initially between Brest and the Cape of Good Hope, the course is punctuated by the passage from one hemisphere to the other through the Doldrums, also known as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The atmosphere in this zone is a mixture of warm, humid air masses carried by the trade winds of the Azores High in the North Atlantic and the St Helena High in the southern hemisphere. They generate unstable air where white calms and thundery squalls alternate without any real logic, requiring even greater vigilance in this first part of the race to get out of this trap as quickly as possible.

Then comes the longest and most difficult part, which consists of taking advantage of the weather phenomena coming from the west to slip between Good Hope and Cape Horn via Cape Leeuwin. This crossing of the two southern hemisphere oceans, the Indian and the Pacific, makes up 3/5ths of the solo round the world voyage. It requires the sailors to maintain their trajectory on a downwind train while coping with a series of disturbances driven by powerful NW'ly winds, the passage of fronts with squalls and icy wind shifts, all without being absorbed by anticyclonic conditions... A heterogeneous situation that puts a strain on both the sailors and the machines...

Finally, rounding the legendary Cape Horn marks the climb back towards Brest, with around 8,000 miles to go to reach the finishing port. Before that, the competitors will once again have to deal with the Saint Helena High, stormy lows in Brazil, the Doldrums, the trade winds in the northern hemisphere and potential Atlantic lows, all of which will require extreme concentration from the sailors until they cross the long-awaited finish line in Brest harbour.

An extraordinary race and extraordinary sailors!

There are very few of them who can rise to the challenge of this race, and that's what makes them atypical human beings, with exceptional physical abilities. These sailors will be putting their immense physical and mental capacities to the test, forced by the format of the race to face up to extremely difficult conditions and their own limits. It's the 'solo' effect in the face of one of the planet's most hostile elements that will reinforce the aura of heroes in each of the skippers taking part, and allow the general public to measure the scale of the feat they will achieve.

Brest Métropole
Région Bretagne
Département du Finistère
Brasserie de Bretagne