The passage of the Atlantic Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone – which was virtually non-existent – left some of the crew of Gitana 13 unsatisfied. However the ‘double' helping of the Pacific Doldrums, which Lionel Lemonchois and his men have had to negotiate has reset the counter… Thinking they were free of the pitfalls of the equatorial front on Thursday, the ten sailors of Gitana Team have had to quickly review their judgement: “On Thursday morning we thought we'd got clear of it but the Doldrums filled in via the East and enveloped us in its calm conditions! We finally extracted ourselves from this second Doldrums yesterday morning and rapidly hit NE'ly breezes. However, instead of 12 hours of reaching (beam wind), which were alluded to in the grib files a few days ago, we were only allowed three hours of sailing in excess of 19 knots with slightly eased sheets… a bit short!” observed Dominic Vittet.
Gitana 13 is now sailing upwind on starboard tack, in a NE'ly air flow oscillating between 10 and 15 knots. In this type of breeze, combined yesterday evening with choppy seas on the nose, Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew opted to reduce the sail area in order to spare their steed: “We have one reef in the mainsail and the staysail is in position up forward. More than the wind though, it's the sea state which is influencing our progress. Added to that, the chop we're encountering at the moment is compromising our desire for speed. It's already slamming a great deal aboard Gitana 13” the onboard navigator confided with us early on yesterday evening.
This morning the maxi-catamaran is sailing off the coast of Salvador and lies 1,570 miles from the finish. Less than 6 days of close-hauled sailing in perspective then for the crew of Gitana 13 to complete this Route de l'Or.