– A breathtaking pursuit between Sodebo Ultim’ and IDEC SPORT on the eve of the finish of the main event of the Nice UltiMed
– The Ultimes expected at the Cap Corse/Island of Giraglia mark tonight, likely with very little separating them
– The boats due across the finish line tomorrow afternoon
The crews of Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim’) and Francis Joyon (IDEC SPORT) are absolutely neck and neck and the breathtaking duel for ultimate victory in the Nice UltiMed is in full swing. At less than 24 hours from the finish, the two Ultimes are virtually tied as they make their way along Corsica’s eastern seaboard! The passage mark situated at Cap Corse will this evening give onlookers the exact distance between the two Ultimes, but it’s clear that it will be but a matter of minutes. From that point, there will be a bracing crossing from Corsica to Nice before the boats complete a second loop of a circuit that will only now be specified by Race Management once they have the first lap passage times in Nice. The objective is that the Ultimes will cross the finish line off Rauba Capeù tomorrow afternoon, Saturday.
In any good sprint, the distances separating the protagonists at the finish are very slender and victory comes down to the tiny details, to the extent that a photo finish is sometimes called for to distinguish the winner. The Nice UltiMed’s original ‘Offshore Sprint’ should be no exception to the rule. Indeed, since IDEC SPORT’s comeback last night, where she made up 50 miles on Sodebo in 5 hours, the two giant trimarans have been embroiled in a furious high-speed pursuit worthy of the Figaro circuit. We knew these boats were similar in terms of performance. We also knew that the crews were put together intelligently, with eclectic, experienced and talented sailors. Finally, we were familiar with the characters of the two skippers, Thomas Coville and Francis Joyon; two fierce competitors, two fighters who give their all to win and never become apathetic. Everything was lined up for a superb match (race), and that is exactly what we’ve got.
A game plan of covering
Since Actual-Grand Large Emotion’s retirement on Wednesday evening, the Nice UltiMed has been transformed into a duel and entirely logically a strategy of covering has been implemented on both of the trimarans still racing. This game plan is further assisted by the fact that the sailors have ultra-precise tools aboard enabling them to pinpoint the position of their rival in real time. “With the AIS, we’re watching Sodebo’s every move. We’re watching their heading, their speed and which strategies they’re adopting”, explains Francis Joyon. “We’re pretty addicted to the cartography!”, adds his crew Gwénolé Gahinet.
End of the suspense tomorrow
In the late afternoon, the two crews were sailing within sight of one another, virtually neck and neck and on a beat towards Cap Corse, engaged in a frenzy of tacks. There is no room for error in a struggle such as this, because the slightest weakness can cost very dear. As such, the sailors remain on the attack, focused on putting in some solid, well-timed tacks and driving their machines at their full potential.
The two Ultimes are expected at Cap Corse this evening, between 8:30-9:00pm French time. From there they will have 100 miles to go to reach Nice, where they should make their first ‘fly past’ early tomorrow morning. This portion between Corsica and the French mainland should involve a favourable NE’ly breeze (20-25 knots), which will enable the crews to put pedal to the metal again. Once they make Nice, Sodebo Ultim’ and IDEC SPORT will set sail on a second, much shorter looped circuit than the first, the route for which will be unveiled shortly by Race Management. The race finish will be tomorrow afternoon, off Rauba-Capeù, where the crowds are expected to come out in force to welcome them home. But whose victory will they celebrate? Suspense…
Radio link-up at 4:00pm French time with Gwénolé Gahinet, crew on IDEC SPORT: “We’re constantly yo-yoing with Sodebo. Since this morning, we’ve been sailing within sight of them virtually the whole time. Right now, we can see them really clearly! We’re pretty addicted to the cartography and the AIS. Yesterday, these tactics enabled us to slip in front of them: we noticed that they’d come to a standstill, which told us they’d fallen into a windless zone. So we then opted for a different trajectory and it paid off. On the whole, here in the Mediterranean, you’re better off being the hunter rather than the hunted. This duel between our two boats with similar performances is just great; we’re absolutely hooked!”
PROGRAMME SATURDAY 5 MAY / NICE
09:30am: Start of the Regatta Finals in the Nautical Arena (Easy To Fly and OneFly) with live commentary from the Promenade des Anglais
10:00am: Opening of the Discovery Exhibition on the Quai des Etats-Unis, Promenade des Anglais
10:00am: Opening of the Ultimes’ dock along Quai Infernet
Afternoon: Race finish, with live commentary from the Rauba-Capeù and then the Winner’s Podium in the Harbour
7:00pm: Discovery Exhibition closes
7:00pm: The Ultimes’ dock closes