One month to the day
As the weekend begins, Lionel Lemonchois and his nine-man crew are sailing toward the Pacific doldrums as they continue their attempt on the Route de l'Or record. The team left New York on 16 January on this, their second record attempt. The doldrums, well known for unpredictable weather conditions, will break the routine that the maxi-catamaran's men have gotten into over the past few days.

Gitana 13 continues to ride the southern-hemisphere trade winds, winding its way up the coast of Chile in a corridor of stronger wind. Thierry Duprey du Vorsent* described the past week onboard the 33-meter catamaran: “We've had pretty much the same weather conditions for the past five days. The wind has been trailing us, blowing between 15 and 20 knots. Gitana 13's complete wardrobe has come out: the full main and big gennaker are up, and the genoa staysail goes up when the breeze weakens. We haven't seen another boat in a long time: it's like the desert here! Our only encounters are with groups of squid. They bump into Gitana 13's hulls at night, leaving traces of ink!”

Even though they're nearly past the Easter Island high-pressure system, Lemonchois and his crew are still cruising along in stable conditions, due to which they've adapted their onboard organization. The ten sailors are taking full advantage of this transition between the blustery conditions of Cape Horn and the next Intertropical Convergence Zone. “Apart from trimming the sails, we haven't had many maneuvers in recent days, and the three-man watch is able to take care of things on deck. The men on stand-by watch can therefore focus on cleaning and fixing the boat, with a little free time left over for themselves,” said Duprey du Vorsent.

But Team Gitana is well aware that things are going to get a lot busier when they reach the doldrums. According to Sylvain Mondon's weather report yesterday, this vast zone stretches from 6°S to 5°N. This means more than 650 nautical miles to cover, in a succession of violent squalls and calm seas. The maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is still expected to cross back into the northern hemisphere early next week.

* Thierry Duprey du Vorsent is a regular on Team Gitana. He skippered the multihulls Gitana 10 and Gitana 12 along with the Figaro, Domaine du Mont d'Arbois. On Gitana 13, he is one of three watch leaders (alongside Lemonchois and Ludovic Aglaor).

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