Armel le Cléac’h’s boat speeds through unsustainable trade winds. “Here we’re making a little top at 39 knots, that’s not bad! It’s about 75 km/h”, explains the master. In mid-May, he was in the West Indies preparing for the next route du Rom. This morning, the sparkling blue sea barely disfigured by the swell. “There’s 17 knots of wind so we’re going at twice the speed of the wind. It’s fairly nice in terms of conditions and sensations.”
Less than six months before the start of the sailing race linking Saint-Malo (Ile-et-Villains) to Pointe-a-Pitre (Guadeloupe), one of the candidates made an original choice: it had been ten days to survey the course to the end, not neglecting any details . We are approaching the Saints Canal.describes the navigator on top of his giant plane, his head outside the cockpit, his eyes fixed on the horizon. “It’s almost the last part of the rum road, the last kilometers before the finish.”
In the cockpit where the maneuvers are performed, part of his team adjusts all the parameters of navigation: which sails to use, which location of the flaps (these wings that allow the boat to fly) … No doubt: the popular Maxi-Trimaran Bank The eleventh, which was launched a little over a year ago, is in a racing configuration. This is also the purpose of the exercise: do the Route du rhum à blanc to the end.
“It was a good rehearsal and good reconnaissance a few weeks before the big start. It also allows us to review a little bit of the dangers that might exist around Guadeloupe: traps to be found, pills and little things seen.”Armel Le Cleak, a navigator preparing for the next Rome Road
The navigator and his team arrived in Guadeloupe on May 12, after less than eight days of crossing, and made several excursions into the archipelago, leaving nothing to chance, as in the weather plan. “We can get caught in the wind, there can be a shriek of up to 40 knots”Sebastian Jose List, alternate captain. “This can be the most demanding part of the rum route because there are a lot of maneuvers to follow. Depending on the phase of the day, you arrive day or night and that’s not the approach at all. It’s a little weather and anything can happen.”
Armel le Cléac’h is the only competitor that has pushed this setup so far. “Everyone chose different options to prepare. We wanted to get to know the course”, he explains. He made that choice notably considering his coup four years ago, during the previous edition of the race. “We know where we come from. We’ve had a very difficult year in 2018 and the Rom Way.”
On Saturday May 21, Armel le Cléac’h departed the other direction with five other crew members on board. They will land in the Azores. Then Armel le Cléac’h will be alone under the control of his own giant of the seas, even Lorient (Morbihan).
Sailing: To prepare for the next rum route, Armel Le Cléac’h made the voyage empty. Jerome Fall reports.