“It's a bit full on!" We've had it all: gusts at over 58 knots, storms accompanied by lightning and heavy with rain. Right now the wind has calmed down a little and we've only got 25 knots. We're currently sailing under staysail with two reefs in the mainsail. We're a little under-canvassed but the sea state is forcing us to sail in this configuration" explained Lionel Lemonchois yesterday evening prior to 2300 hours. Indeed, with average waves of 8 metres, reaching as high as 10 metres at times, the handling of the 33 metres maxi-catamaran has been acrobatic to say the least: “We're surfing at 30 knots with virtually nothing aloft. It's impressive and above all very demanding for the helmsmen. The past few hours have been stressful for everyone.” In these conditions, it is difficult, even impossible to get any sleep. Despite all this, the crew has remained in watch configuration; although given the vast amount of trimming to be done, the crew normally on standby were on deck with those on watch.
Benefiting from their proximity to the depression centre, synonymous with light winds, the crew of Gitana 13 performed another gybe last night. Since then, the maxi-catamaran has switched to a heading of 290-270 ° to extract itself from the centre and hunt down the surrounding low. “They're going to accompany the wind rotation, which will back from the south-east to the east and then the north-east, prior to fixing themselves in the north within the system. The seas won't be so big but they will be shorter. Indeed, it is in this zone that the Kuro-Shivo reigns – a SE'ly current equivalent to the Gulf Stream along the East American seaboard” detailed Sylvain Mondon from Météo France.
“We are on the home straight and there's no way we can rush things. We making headway with care, trying to prevent too much pressure on the gear as much as we can” detailed the skipper of Gitana 13, remaining loyal to his philosophy.
Positioned 271 miles from the finish at 0930 hours, the maxi-catamaran in the colours of LCF Rothschild Group is expected into Yokohama overnight this Wednesday (UT). However, for Lionel Lemonchois and his ten crew, everything will depend on the negotiation of the final miles prior to Cape Nojima, which marks the entrance into Tokyo Bay. A 30 mile beat will then be the order of the day in order to make the finish line, situated at the far end of the bay off Yokohama (between the lighthouse at the entrance to Hakkeijima Marina and the white lighthouse to the south of the passage towards Hakkeijama, as stipulated in the WSSRC texts).