Les Ultims au départ de la Transat Jacques Vabre

Ultim: The calendar 2022-2023 is in place

Last Tuesday at the Paris Boat Show, the Nautic, OC Sport Pen Duick confirmed that Brest will host the start and finish of the Single-handed Ultim Round the World Race in 2023. It is a race which a lot more details will become known over the coming months, as also will the program for the seasons 2022 and 2023 the full details of which are not fully formalized.

It comes as not too much of a surprise that in 2023 and 2024 Brest that will host the start and finish of the Single-handed Ultim Round the World, the generic name for an event that was previously called Brest Oceans and which should really have been organized by Brest Ultim Sailing, created to organise the race. Finally taking on the management of the race since last July, OC Sport Pen Duick formalized this information on Tuesday as part of the Paris Nautic.

“We kind of played the loyalty card with Brest,” confirms OC Pen Duick’s president Hervé Favre. “We are also organizing The Transat CIC with Brest so really we know them well, Brest have been in it since the start of the project, we set off with them on the first step in the negotiations and it all went well, we didn’t really need to go knocking on other doors.”

Now all that remains is to find a date and a name for this great inaugural edition. “The date will be the subject of our discussions with Brest in the coming weeks,” continues Favre. “They clearly want it to be during the school holidays, we don’t want to be clashing with the Transat Jacques Vabre so maybe the Christmas holidays might be a possibility.”

Asked if the name will include Brest he said: “We are looking for the best solution, knowing that we want to bring in a brand so we leave the option open depending on the possibility of a private enterprise title partner, the objective is to decide in the first quarter of 2022 because we need to be able to launch our communications and marketing materials.”

A minimum of 4 teams

So the first objective is to find a title partner at, according to Hervé Favre for around “3 million euros” of a total budget estimated at “6-7 million (ex VAT)”, to which Brest will put in 1.2 million. As for the teams, according to the agreement between the Ultim 32/23 class and the organizer foresees a minimum of four at the start. Five have already committed last summer by paying half of the registration fees which will amount to 200,000 euros: Banque Populaire, Sodebo, Actual, Gitana Team and Brest Ultim Sailing, the company of Emmanuel Bachellerie (former general delegate of the class), who are looking for partners to back the old Actual (see below).

SVR Lazartigue should follow – François Gabart’s team has not yet joined the Ultim 32/23 class. No answer so far for Francis Joyon and Idec. In addition to the dates, the race name and the search for partners, OC Sport Pen Duick will be working on the Notice of Race in the coming weeks, which will require the appointment of a Race Director. The main elements of the Notice of Race are, however, known: authorized technical stopovers – the details and possibly the number have yet to be specified – an ice exclusion zone that will be defined, and perhaps an arrangement for the start. “We are considering the possibility of sending the boats from Ushant to allow them to be eligible for the single-handed round-the-world record”, comments Favre.

Brest Atlantiques in 2022,
Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient in 2023?

This single-handed Ultim Round the World Race seems to now be well on track, the program until the race is still the subject of discussions within the class which in fact has only three members right now, Banque Populaire, Sodebo and Actual, and with the other teams. In 2022, a Route du Rhum year – the priority objective of all of them – is a second edition of Brest Atlantiques which is envisaged for the beginning of July. “It is important to have complementary races to show off these boats more than once a year”, explains Jean-Bernard Le Boucher, the general manager of the Ultim 32/23 class, who specifies that the organization should, as it was for the first edition which ran in 2019, to be once again entrusted to Brest Ultim Sailing.

General manager of Brest Ultim Dailing, Emmanuel Bachellerie just explains: “The race is on the national calendar and the class wishes to include it in its program and the rest will be revealed later.” The potential participants have yet to agree on the format and that, so far, is not a given. Ronan Lucas, director of Team Banque Populaire “is well motivated to do it as a crew”, Cyril Dardashti, his counterpart within the Gitana Team, explains: “We have given an agreement in principle as long as it is announced quickly and in a timely manner to follow the same format, ie double handed with a media person.” After the Brest Atlantiques 2, some teams have planned to participate in the Drheam-Cup which offers them a stand alone course of 1,500 miles.

In 2023 an early race is planned ahead of the single-handed Ultim Round the World Race, namely the Lorient-Bermuda-Lorient which will return to the calendar after its postponement in 2019 (linked to the damage occurring on the Route du Rhum 2018). “I proposed to Lorient Agglo a four-year program, of which Lorient-Les Bermudes is part in 2023, they have agreed on the program and the budgets, now everything has to be signed”, confirms Jean-Philippe Cau, the president of Lorient Grand Large. We would welcome the Ultims and perhaps other large trimarans, like Spindrift (now named Sails of Change) and the former MOD70s , as Maserati.”

The former Actual is looking for partners. Owners of the former Actual since, Brest Ultim Sailing are looking for partners for the Route du Rhum and then ongoing after that for the Ultim Round the World race. “It’s a bit more complicated than I expected,” explains Emmanuel Bachellerie, managing director. “Firstly because the current climate is not easy now with a fifth wave of Covid, and secondly because there are other offerings. The companies we meet look at what is happening in ocean racing and see that Imoca is extremely healthy, the last Vendée Globe had a very strong impact.”

What arguments can be put forward to try to convince partners to join a circuit with a boat which has really not so much chance of being among the leaders, given its age? “We can offer reliability, the ability to finish races, and a much smaller budget than the other teams, between 2.2 and 2.5 million (excluding tax) per year, all included: charter and insurance of the boat, technical team [Jochen Krauth is the technical director of the boat], skipper and communications.”

Emmanuel Bachellerie works in particular with Arthur Le Vaillant, who wishes get into the circuit but they are not exclusive with him: “The partner will choose the skipper. Arthur has a certain type of positioning, attractive for companies engaged in environmental and societal issues, but since he is quite outspoken and that might put others in other areas off. Me, my job as a  boat owner is to keep the boat sailing, so that includes introducing Arthur and others.” Does he set a deadline for this search? “If the boat does not find a backer to line up at the start of the Route du Rhum, I will start to tell myself that it gets very complicated”, concludes Emmanuel Bachellerie.

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot / Alea

Tip & Shaft est le média
expert de la voile de compétition

Course au large

Tip & Shaft décrypte la voile de compétition chaque vendredi, par email :

  • Des articles de fond et des enquêtes exclusives
  • Des interviews en profondeur
  • La rubrique Mercato : l’actu business de la semaine
  • Les résultats complets des courses
  • Des liens vers les meilleurs articles de la presse française et étrangère
* champs obligatoires

🇬🇧 Want to join the international version? Click here 🇬🇧