Gitana 13 off to a flying start
The weather which reigned off California this weekend, won't have given Lionel Lemonchois and his crew much of an opportunity to size-up their performance. Setting out on Saturday 29th March at 22h45'45 UT – or mid afternoon in San Francisco – in a bid to break the record for the east to west crossing of the North Pacific, the eleven crew on Gitana 13 were caught off guard.

Initially surprised by the icy temperatures, which weren't dissimilar to when they cast off from New York in January during La Route de l'Or, then by a NW'ly air flow, blowing up to 25/ 20 knots, causing big seas the minute they escaped San Francisco bay: “We were expecting the Pacific swell but we were really shaken about for the first ten hours at sea: under 2 reef ORC, soaked through despite our drysuits… There's certainly nicer introductions! That didn't last long though and things have calmed down gradually. The sea state over the first few hours forced us to drop a little further south than the start forecasts indicated, but nothing dramatic” explained the skipper of the 33 metre long maxi-catamaran.
This start, which could be described as 'feisty', has not prevented Lionel Lemonchois and his men from racking up good speeds for this second record attempt, as the 480 miles covered during the first day bear witness: at the 0830 position report, the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild had clocked up an 185 mile lead over Olivier de Kersauson's reference time. This fairly substantial gain is not that significant after just 30 hours of racing, but it's still a good morale boost for the crew.

Yesterday evening, as they completed their first day at sea, the men from Gitana Team were sailing in around fifteen knots of NE'ly and were able to round off their trajectory a little. This move has led to much more manageable conditions, particularly as the seas have become less messy: “Gitana 13 is flying along under full mainsail and large gennaker at over 20 knots; the pace easing off slightly over the past few hours. We're on the southern edge of a high and our first gybe is scheduled for 6 hours time (at the end of the night) as the wind clocks round to the East. After that we should be able to make good headway on port tack in our bid to hunt down a new cold front, which is forecast across our course in 24 hours time. For the time being though, things are fairly calm here; it's mid afternoon and the temperatures are gradually climbing thanks to the bright sunshine. Life onboard is beginning to take shape.”

Gitana 13's watch system
Indeed, as regards organisation, Lionel Lemonchois has opted to split his crew into three watches: two being comprised of four crew and one of three. The crew comprises eleven men then in this North Pacific crossing between San Francisco and Yokohama. 

Watch No.1: Lionel Lemonchois / Olivier Wroczynski / David Boileau / Cyril Dardashti
Watch No.2: Ludovic Aglaor / Jean-Baptiste Epron / Nicolas Raynaud / Kojiro Shiraishi
Watch No.3: Jacques Vincent / Stefan Fodor / Léopold Lucet

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