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HomeEventsRegattaÉric Péron finishes fifth and completes the circle in the Arkéa Ultim...

Éric Péron finishes fifth and completes the circle in the Arkéa Ultim Challenge – Brest

Éric Péron sailing ULTIM ADAGIO crossed the finish line of the ARKEA ULTIM CHALLENGE – Brest at 14 h 44 27″ to finish in fifth position, the final skipper to complete the 22, 460 nautical miles course which started on Sunday 7th January.

His elapsed time is 66 days 01 hour, 14 minutes 27s and he finishes 15d 6h 6mn 45s after winner Charles Caudrelier.

Finishing the course is a major triumph for Péron who worked very hard to pull together the resources to build a small team, take on the Ultim which is the only non-foiler of the six which started the race.

A former Olympic classes campaigner turned Figaro racer, the 42 year old who also counts The Ocean Race, Ocean Fifty and IMOCA on his extensive CV, wanted to test himself and set a new high level challenge.

“I have always wanted to take on challenges and racing around the world in an Ultim is one of them,” he told us before the start.

Éric Péron, Ultim Adagio – Arkéa Ultim Challenge – Brest – photo © Alexis Courcoux

Last summer, he took over the Ultim which was previously Actual and started its life in 2001 as Oliver de Kersauson’s Geromino and was substantially updated by Thomas Coville in 2014. And from there he worked tirelessly to find the funding finally landing headline sponsorship from French aparthotel chain Adagio.

He only validated his qualification in November whilst his rivals were sailing back from the Transat Jacques Vabre. So Péron beat the odds to be at the start. In the final pre-start days his mantra was “I just want to finish the race”.

On start day he is the first to board his ULTIM. After so many weeks of fighting against just about everything, living under reduced hours of sleep and the high stress of managing his project on a small budget, the emotions surface as he leaves Brest.

Aboard his non-foiling, more traditional boat he knows that his passage round the world will be so very different from that of other skippers. But he finds his rhythm, albeit losing miles steadily to the boats in front by Madeira and the Canaries.

But then he suffered an impact on his starboard rudder. Like Tom Laperche and Anthony Marchand, the he has to make a technical stop into Cape Town of just over 24 hours.

“Thank you to my team for being so dedicated, I couldn’t have dreamed of better,” he says, moved as he leaves.

Éric Péron, Ultim Adagio – Arkéa Ultim Challenge – Brest – photo © Alexis Courcoux

“We quickly forget that there are hard times”

He passes Cape Leeuwin after 32 days at sea and has a great passage of the Pacific Ocean – a good chunk of which is achieved on the front of a warm front which he describes as a “great boost”. Then there is the iconic passage of Cape Horn. And in fact he is fastest in the race in the Pacific Ocean, 1 hour and 14 minutes quicker than Charles Caudrelier. Péron takes time to enjoy everything: “The flight of an albatross, a beautiful light, a great sun”. He says during a long interview. He also says: “We quickly forget that there are hard, intense, painful, nice and beautiful moments too”.

Because of his fast passage of the Pacific he catches hundreds of miles on fourth placed Anthony Marchand and the former Figaro class rivals tussle on the ascent of the South Atlantic. But ‘Antho’, is positioned closer to the coast, manages to escape first. Péron holds on patiently in the light airs but not really happy when he escapes from the doldrums as the light winds are replaced by strong trade winds and slamming seas.

A few days ago he remarked “I am proud to be one of those who dared”. Throughout his race it was not only his abilities as a sailor and his ability to push himself which was most impressive. He tells his stories vividly and shares the intensity with the wider audience.

“I am going off to experience my love of the sea and that will allow me to appreciate my love of the land even more”. He summed up when he left. And he will have fulfilled both today.

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