The Maxi Banque Populaire XI at the start of the Arkea Ultim Challenge BRET

Tuesday, 9 january 2024

At 1:30 pm on Sunday January 7, Armel Le Cléac’h set sail in the first solo round-the-world Ultim race aboard the Maxi Banque Populaire XI.

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It was an historic moment in Brest! The 32-meter-long, 23-meter-wide, 15-ton boat carrying 600 square meters of downwind sail set out to sea in the company of five other competitors for an awe-inspiring round-the-world race, 22,000 nautical miles in length, equivalent to just over 25,000 miles or 40,000 km. Armel will have to round three great capes during the voyage: the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leewin, and Cape Horn!

The boat’s meticulous preparation, his victory in the last Transat Jacques Vabre, and his immense sailing experience mean that Armel can take a cool, clear-minded approach to this race: “I’m setting off to compete in a marathon on an absolutely extraordinary boat.”  Armel, who has already raced around the world three times and won the Vendée Globe in 2017, has thrown himself wholeheartedly into this challenge, along with the entire Banque Populaire team. 

The whole Banque Populaire team is mobilized: the technical team is “in race mode” – i.e. on call 24 hours a day – to respond to any problems with the boat’s electronics, hydraulics, computers or rigging. The teams are allowed to provide assistance to skippers, and skippers can make stopovers (for a minimum of 24 hours). 
Only four sailors have ever completed this non-stop round-the-world race on a large multihull vessel (Francis Joyon, Ellen MacArthur, Thomas Coville, and François Gabart).

Follow the race on