So Gitana 11 is flying towards the small Puerto de la Luz, or “Port of Light”, wich they should reach it in the middle of the afternoon. Currently sailing at between 27 and 29 knots with 1 reef in the solent, Gitana 11 scarcely seems handicapped, although in this morning's radio chat, Lionel Lemonchois lamented “not being able to pass the 30-knot threshold, as we need to take care of our lovely boat. This is not the time to throw caution to the wind!”
Lionel Lemonchois, at 10:00 this morning : “The weather conditions were too bad to make the stop at Madeira. It's one thing to stop, but another to get going again under optimum conditions! Nevertheless, the planned stop there has resulted in us losing a bit of time, but it was difficult to anticipate this as the weather was so unstable. A stop of less than 2 hours would be ideal, and everything's ready on land. We have to remove the tip of the foil that's stuck in the float and replace it with the new foil. We've been reluctant to stop for quite some time, as the boat has been behaving very nicely, but we can't afford to keep taking risks. We'll only waste a little bit of time and then hopefully get back in the thick of things very quickly.”
Several Gitana Team operatives have been dispatched to the port and are awaiting Gitana 11 to ensure the job gets done as swiftly as possible: Olivier Wroczynski, known as “Zolive”, a specialist in missions of this kind, William Fabulet, the Gitana 11 boat captain, and Sébastien Thetiot. They left France on Tuesday night to be sure of being able to intervene, irrespective of the location and timing of the boat's stop.
Meanwhile, back among the monohulls…
Loïck Peyron, the skipper of Gitana Eighty but also the Gitana Team's general manager, it keeping a close eye on the unfolding operation. But despite his dual role, the man from La Baule has still managed to build on his current third place in the fleet by gaining 25 miles on his closest rival Michel Desjoyeaux.
Gitana Eighty is sailing mainsail and gennaker up amid 12-15 knots of wind on the fringe of the ridge of low pressure, and is intent on maintaining this position. Loïck Peyron and Jean-Baptiste Le Vaillant are taking turns at the helm in order to optimise the boat's trajectory, while delighting in discovering just what she is capable of.
But there is one worry on board… their water supplies:
“We're really enjoying the meals prepared by the Domaine du Mont d'Arbois, we never expected to be eating so well at sea. It's that good that we might even put on weight! But we're starting to get slightly low on water and so have chosen to start rationing ourselves already!“