Offshore Racing – Route du Rhum 2022 – Thomas Coville and Sodebo Ultim 3 ready for the festivities! – Easy sailing

The countdown is on, Sodebo Ultim 3 is on its way! Thomas Coville left Lorient on Monday and entered the Vauban basin in Saint-Malo on Tuesday evening with the other competitors in the Ultim 32/23 class. An arrival always full of emotions for those who will participate in the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe for the seventh time in a row. With high ambitions and a desire to take advantage of the course in the ten days that separate it from the start, on 6 November at 13.02.

It was a day of celebration on Tuesday in Saint-Malo with a double event, the official opening of the village of Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe in Saint-Malo and the arrival in the Vauban basin of the boats in the leading category, Ultimate 32/23 class trimarans. An arrival in the form of a parade under sail before a precise passage through the lock that gives access to the basin where the eight competitors in the 2022 edition of the single-handed transatlantic race were moored. A moment once again intensely experienced by Thomas Coville: “The silhouette of the Crusader city when you arrive is like a face. For me it is both the place of my childhood, where I went to see the boats with my parents. »

The skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 will indeed line up for the seventh time in a row at the start of a Route du Rhum, which will have shaped his career: “Some editions have changed my life. First of all there is the one from 1994 when I was Laurent Bourgnon’s coach, it triggered many things in me; then the one I won four years later (in an Imoca) after replacing Yves Parlier, it is very initiatory and at the end it marks the start of a wonderful story, since it is in Pointe-à-Pitre that I meet Bougro- the family (who founded Sodebo). I also remember the big race in 2006, I finished third, a few minutes ahead of Michel Desjoyeaux, it was undoubtedly one of the finest editions in terms of sport. There were also several painful memories, especially the one where I hit the freighter (in 2014), very difficult to live with, although behind it allowed me to jump back, this missed meeting pushed me to make different choices that we can see the results of today. And then there is the satisfaction of third place in 2018, a difficult edition for our category. For 2022, it is an exciting new story to write! »

This new story, Thomas Coville approaches it with arguments for playing at the forefront: “Humblely, I believe that I am one of those who can claim the podium. With the whole team, we have built the road to this goal, I feel in my place among the three or four competitors who will be playing for the win.” Which will definitely require you to get into the rhythm: “It’s a race that is short and requires you to get into the game immediately, otherwise you can get caught in the throat. On these boats, there are no half-measures in the commitment you have to put in, because you quickly lose 3-4 knots of speed compared to the competitors. »

Determined to do everything to fulfill these high ambitions, the skipper of the Sodebo Ultim 3 took particular care, together with his team, to prepare this Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe: “We managed to roll out the itinerary that had been planned. We sailed a lot, almost 140 days, first with a crew, then semi-solo, then single-handed, because I like it and really wanted to get fit. The big plus of this preparation is that we shared many sessions with Charles Caudrelier and Armel Le Cléac’h exchanging fluency, which made us develop a lot together. »

At the same time, Thomas Coville chose to work on his physical condition, which is crucial given the commitment that an Ultim alone requires, in the company of part of his team, therefore a stay in the mountains in the spring, an internship on the Crozon peninsula in September . He also relied on external skills, especially via his partnership with Stars of Sport, to better understand the mental aspect: “I collaborated with Alice Modolo, a free diver, who for me is an alien in the preparation Mentally, I also spoke with Ophélie David, the former ski cross champion.Another aspect and not least, which the skipper of Sodebo Ultim 3 insisted a lot is the weather, with a route unit which will be managed by the Australian Will Oxley assisted by Philippe Legros.

A popular novelty for this 12th edition, all the trimarans of the Ultim 32/23 class are gathered in the Vauban basin – some were outside four years ago – which will allow the public to admire these machines, which many rightly compare to Formula 1 cars at sea. Every time I get on board the boat, whether I’m racing or practice sailing, I feel like the driver in the F1 pit putting on his helmet and gloves before setting off for a Grand Prix. I feel the rare feeling of having the chance to steer an incredible boat. »

But also, on this 2022 edition of the transatlantic race with one hand, to be part of an exceptional line-up: “The Ultim class had been criticized enough four years ago after the injury that affected certain competitors. Of course, we’ve been through ups and downs, but it’s clear that this bet to create a class of big boats is paying off: we’re eight in Saint-Malo, including three new ones compared to the previous edition, all with a pretty incredible homogeneity and trimarans that have come a long way. It’s a set that makes me happy and makes me say that sometimes you have to stay combative despite opposing currents. I’m proud to be part of this fleet which is a worldwide reference.”

As he waits to leave to attack this monument of offshore racing, which is the Route du Rhum – Destination Guadeloupe, the skipper of the Sodebo Ultim 3 intends to take advantage of the special atmosphere of the days preceding the start: “I will alternately be on site to participate in the celebration because the Route du Rhum remains a sea racing celebration and I like to share and pass on my passion and times when I have to get out of Saint-Malo to focus on myself again. Because it is essential that I start in good physical and mental shape. I will try to find the right balance between this natural impulse to share and the need to protect myself. »

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