Gitana 13 are fast approaching the finish, but vigilance is key aboard the 33 metre maxi-catamaran. Indeed, to complete the North Pacific crossing, Lionel Lemonchois and his crew will have a sizeable obstacle to tackle: a disturbance and its associated warm and cold fronts. On the menu, strong winds may reach 50 knots and will be accompanied by big seas.
These particularly harsh conditions will require a great deal of concentration at all times on the permanent deck watch. This will be the case for both the helmsman and the crew in charge of the sheets. It's also a safe bet that those crew on standby watch won't be far behind them either to lend a helping hand on the giant platform as often as is necessary.
Under three reefed staysail or ORC, the eleven sailors of Gitana Team will have to protect themselves, whilst continuing their progress towards Yokohama. “For Lionel and his crew, the objective is to get as close as they can to the centre of the low so as to be able to sail in less violent winds: they're going to gain fresh impetus at the centre of the low and they will make the most of this slightly more ordered zone to make a gybe and head north. Indeed, the weather situation is forcing them to shift over to the north in order to have a manoeuvrable boat, whatever the wind throws at them over the final miles prior to entering Yokohama Bay” explained Sylvain Mondon, himself on permanent watch from the Météo France offices in Toulouse.
Tonight, downwind on starboard tack in winds bordering 27 knots, the skipper of Gitana 13 and his men have made the most of the situation to extend their lead over the reference time set by Olivier de Kersauson back in 2006 in a time of 14 days, 22 hours, 40 minutes and 41 seconds. At the 0830 ranking this morning, Gitana 13's lead had stretched to 846 miles, compared with 606 miles at the same time yesterday; a figure which should increase further still before the finish.
According to the latest estimates, the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild may well make its entrance into Yokohama Bay during the course of the day on Wednesday. However, it will be necessary to wait for Gitana 13 to extract herself from the worst of the low prior to taking a closer look at a more precise ETA.
The men on Gitana 13
Lionel Lemonchois (Skipper / helmsman / watch leader)
Jacques Vincent (helmsman / watch leader)
Ludovic Aglaor (helmsman/ watch leader)
Cyril Dardashti (trimmer)
Olivier Wroczynski (trimmer /computing manager)
Jean-Baptiste Epron (trimmer / Photographer)
Nicolas Raynaud (trimmer / Video manager)
Stefan Fodor (trimmer)
Kojiro Shiraishi (trimmer)
David Boileau (N°2 /trimmer/ deck hardware manager)
Léopold Lucet (N°1 /manager of supplies and medical needs)