Skipper Lionel Lemonchois, not one to complain, said that the past few days of sailing were very difficult: “Since exiting the Doldrums (Ed.: on 23 January), things haven't been easy! We've had to deal with fickle winds, both in strength and direction, and get through tricky squalls and dead zones…it dragged on a bit! Then, this past weekend, we got caught up in a stormy low-pressure system off the Brazilian coast. We had to work our way through that. On Saturday, at the end of the morning, we executed our first jibe of this trip. But the night from Saturday to Sunday proved to be the most difficult, spending more than four hours in very light winds. Four long hours, during which our speed never got above 4 knots!” These conditions gnawed on the ten sailors' nerves and required a number of sail adjustments: “We always had someone on deck to fine-tune the boat to try to take advantage of the slightest wind changes.”
Back to business as usual
The conditions over the past few days threw a kink in the maxi-catamaran's attempt at the record from New York to San Francisco, but the situation improved significantly yesterday afternoon. Team Gitana was rewarded for its efforts and patience in the form of a southeasterly wind current. “The wind is back and Gitana 13 is cruising along at 25-30 knots. It's great to get back up to these speeds and be able to again tap into the boat's potential.”
Over the next few days, the strategy adopted by Lemonchois and his crew of nine will consist of skirting around the west side of the Saint Helena high-pressure system—which is very broad in the southern summer—by sailing along the coast of Uruguay and Argentina.