This Saturday morning, whilst Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew are beginning their 30th day at sea in their record attempt between Hong Kong and London, Gitana 13 is sailing abeam of Sierra Leone.
Gitana 13 - Tea Route
Progress is unsteady due to the effects of the Doldrums which don’t yet seem to have decided to let go of the maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group.
Patience is more crucial than ever aboard Gitana 13. Still caught in the clutches of a capricious Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone, with shifty and very often light winds, the sailors of Gitana Team remain calm and are making the most of every possible opportunity to rack up the miles, as was evident last night: 'We benefited from a blustery squall to hook onto a good air flow, which enabled us to make headway at an average of 20 knots for three hours. It was fairly short-lived but we know only too well that these few hours of making headway along the course at a steady speed are important for what’s to come' explained Ronan Guérin mid morning.
A new member of the crew of Gitana 13 for the Tea Route, Ronan shares with us his current experiences: 'I had never sailed aboard a boat like Gitana 13 before; I’m a lot more used to one-design and Figaros (ten metre monohull). What is particularly enriching about this adventure for me is the ‘team sport’ aspect. The manœuvres can call upon the whole crew and we all play an important role in getting the boat making headway. There are naturally some appointed helmsmen, starting with the watch leaders, but all the crew take it in turns at the helm, which is very appreciable. Lionel is a great leader of men: he lets us have freedom in our choices and entrusts us with various responsibilities, but he’s never far away! He orchestrates discretely…'
Today isn’t forecast to be very productive for the men of the maxi-catamaran, but this is the price they have to pay to extract themselves from the Doldrums and hit the NE’ly tradewinds, synonymous with winds which, though on the nose, will be steadier. The transition between these two phenomena will begin this afternoon for Lionel Lemonchois and his men.
Crossing the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone requires the crew’s full attention, not to mention energy, but already at the chart table, minds are on the conditions to come. Supported as ever by Sylvain Mondon, Gitana Team’s router, Dominic Vittet is studying the different scenarios. Currently the Azores High, which is situated between the Portuguese archipelago and Spain, is breaking up to position itself across the European continent. However, from Tuesday, the zone of high pressure will take its rightful position over the Azores again, with a low forming over the island of Madeira. For the time being this configuration doesn’t seem to be on the side of the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. However, as is always the case with the weather, nothing is set in stone and things may evolve. Patience is the order of the day then!