Discovering Charles Caudrelier: the 50-year-old who flies the Ocean

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Charles Caudrelier
Charles Caudrelier

There is no doubt that Charles Caudrelier, with his victory in the Arkea Ultim Challenge, has scored one of the sailing feats of this excitement-filled 2024, between ocean sailing, the Olympics and the America’s Cup. Even without records, leading a 32-meter trimaran like the Ultim, for 50 days, at over 23 knots average, is certainly not something all sailors can do, but only a few.

Race winner Maxi Edmond de Rothschild – Gitana 17 / skippered by Charles Caudrelier (FRA) crosses the finish line of the Arkéa Ultim Challenge Brest on the 27th February 2024.
Photo Vincent Curutchet / Gitana Team

Charles Caudrelier is in that ocean sailing Olympus where one enters after racing in Figaro, Class 40, Imoca 60, and maybe even winning a round-the-world race: when you have already done all these things, only then do you get to the Ultimates, the final step of ocean sailing boats, the most extreme ones. How did Charles Caudrelier, the winner of the Arkea Ultim Challenge, make it this far?

Charles Caudrelier – A Flying 50-Year-Old.

Charles Caudrelier was born in 1974 in Paris, and has just turned 50. In the world of ocean sailing he made his mark after the age of 20, first by joining the Port la Foret training center, the Pôle Finistère Course au Large, then with his first participation in the Solitaire du Figaro. In the toughest offshore monotype there is Caudrelier debuts with a ninth place overall and victory among rookies. In 2001 he improved, finishing fifth overall again in the Solitaire.

Winning this legendary regatta is only a matter of time, and indeed it comes in 2004, and at 30 years old Caudrelier is now ready to take flight. He jumps into the Imoca 60 class where he becomes the co-skipper of Marc Guillemot, with whom he won the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2009.

GITANA, Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.

The turning point in Charles’s career, however, came with Franck Cammas: first he served as his routier at the 2010 Route du Rhum, which Cammas won, then he became part of Groupama 4’s crew at the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race, with Franck skippered, and the result did not change: yet another win.

Charles Caudrelier – Volvo Ocean Race Victory.

The time is now ripe for him to become skipper himself, and this happens in the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, when Caudrelier leads Dongfeng, a French-Chinese team. They are the outsiders of the 2014 edition and finish third by winning two stages. They tried again in 2017 and, on the last stage with a heart-stopping finish, Dongfeng won the crewed round-the-world race. For Caudrelier this is the definitive inconoration.

From that point he began to enter the orbit of the Ultim class, where he made his debut in 2019 with Edmond de Rotschild entrusting him with a new trimaran. The ed debut is with victory at the Brest Atlantique, but then also come successes at the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2021, paired with Franck Cammas, and solo in 2022 at the Route du Rhum, at the end of an exciting duel with François Gabart.

M.G.

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