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Doldrums, pot au noir, ITCZ: what is it like to cross this area?

by Global Solo Challenge 18 Jun 07:42 PDT
Inter Tropical Convergence Zone © Global Solo Challenge

One thing about the Global Solo Challenge is for sure: both the skippers and the boats will be facing huge challenges during their circumnavigation.

Today we will look at the first hurdle the participants will find on their way. This is an area of the world that we can define as being "Between Two Seas", because of the macro division between global air circulation between the northern and southern hemisphere.

The area where the north-east and the south-east trade winds converge and almost touch is known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

Here we will talk about the ITCZ of the Atlantic Ocean, which participants of the GSC will have to cross twice, once on their way out and once on their way back.

From a meteorology point of view, this is a low barometric pressure zone whose specific position is not precisely defined. It extends between the African coast and the South American coast, and changes seasonally. Normally, it is located between a latitude of 8 and 3 degrees north; however, when the trade winds are stronger, between October and December, it extends further.

These are the months in which the weather is usually at its worst, because normally the ITCZ is characterised by light winds or long monotonous windless periods, high humidity, and unbearable heat, interrupted by heavy or very heavy storms, accompanied by cumulonimbus clouds. The wind, rain, and lightning can be particularly intense and sudden, varying in duration and direction.

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