Gitana 11 is travelling at 25 knots in 90° winds, with staysail and 1 reef in the mainsail. After a night with the mainsail cleat up, Lionel Lemonchois and Yann Guichard have slowed slightly. Last night, the Gitana 11 crew was surprised on two occasions when the boat dug in suddenly and, given the current situation, they are opting to err on the side of caution. In the end though, the doldrums proved to be pretty much a formality… Hat's off to Sylvain Mondon – Météo France, the boat's router, who has once again demonstrated the perfect chemistry between him and the Gitana 11 team in helping them pull off a master stroke courtesy of a controlled and generally efficient exit from the doldrums!
Now they are into the home straight towards Bahia, with a latest ETA for the boat of Wednesday evening.
Yann Guichard, co-skipper of Gitana 11:
“That's it, we're in the southern hemisphere now and well ahead of Banque Populaire. That's certainly good for morale! But we need to remain watchful as the pace is picking up… Last night, there was a moment when our bows dug right in, slap-bang on the equator. It was nothing too serious, just that we were surprised by a squall and it turned out to be pretty violent. The doldrums caused us a few problems but all things considered, we came out rather nicely. Fatigue is starting to set in but now we're going at 28 knots, it's good fun and we feel as if we're getting close to Bahia! The nights are tough on board as there's no moon, so it's pitch black…”
On Gitana Eighty, Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant declared this morning: “We're quite pleased with our little coup. We negotiated the wind change well and made a nice change of tack last night.” The monohull is sailing mainsail/large spinnaker up in the wind and behind Ecover. This morning, Loïck Peyron and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant were slightly faster than Mike Golding but whereas the latter has a 40-mile lead, almost nothing separates his posse of pursuers and the outcome of the different options taken will most likely not be revealed before they pass through the doldrums, which they're due to reach tomorrow evening.
Loïck Peyron, skipper of Gitana Eighty:
“Everything's going well but I'm starting to get fed up of making a square run off the route. We're not making much progress but one thing's for sure: we're well in control of our manoeuvres, especially gybing in 10 knots of wind! Things should speed up during the day tomorrow, but still on a square run, so we won't get much closer. Then we'll be slowed down at the doldrums and that could last quite some time. It's hard to have a clear idea of what's going to happen there, as uncertainty is what the doldrums are all about! The last 1,500 miles should be smoother and faster, so it should be an interesting speed test to finish off with.”