East through the Doldrums, bound now for Brest
Early on Thursday morning, shortly after 02:00 UTC, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was the first boat back into the northern hemisphere after twenty-two days and around fifteen hours at sea. From there Charles Caudrelier and Franck Cammas attacked the much dreaded Doldrums. With their router Marcel van Triest, the duo opted for a relatively eastern passage in terms of longitude between 22 and 23° East - meaning they didn’t have to extend their route. It proved to be a pertinent choice if we are to believe the picture postcard description from Franck at today’s live link-up. In the wake of the latest Gitana, Macif was back up to second place to the detriment of Actual Leader. They are respectively 544 and 619 miles behind the lead boat today.


A smooth doldrums

The sailors may have made the passage dozens of times before, but this zone is never one they look forward to as they know just how easy it is to fall into its clutches with no warning. However for some days Marcel van Triest, the weather router for the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild, has been scrutinising the zone and refining the giant’s trajectory so as to come up with the best possible corridor through the weather system for the two sailors. This morning, the duo paid tribute to their analyst’s strategy and Charles Caudrelier even admitted that he hadn’t had such an easy passage in over 14 years!

“We were in a zone without any convection, there were just some light patches to negotiate, but the wind wasn’t suddenly unstable as it tends to be when there are storms and dark squalls. In this instance, there were virtually no squalls, just a little tiny bit of rain. The wind did drop off a lot at one point, to 6-7 knots, for a few hours, but the boat continued to make headway at over 10 knots. It’s quite simple because the rotation is continuous so there weren’t any significant changes in wind strength. Everything went smoothly compared with our passage through the doldrums on the outward leg, where we had big black squalls and big gusts, which we had to utilise in order to make headway. It did last 200 miles though, so it wasn’t a short passage in terms of distance, but we never came to a standstill”, explained Franck Cammas at the live weekly link-up for the Brest Atlantiques.


Abeam of Cape Verde

Since exiting the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone early yesterday evening, the maxi-trimaran fitted out by Ariane and Benjamin de Rothschild has been sailing in the trade winds of the northern hemisphere, bound for Cape Verde, which she is set to leave to starboard tonight. The skipper of Gitana 17 gave us a rather pleasant account of their 25th day of racing: “We’re in a phase of reaching in the trade winds on our climb up towards Cape Verde. We’re punching into a bit of chop which is beginning to subside. It was a bit brutal last night, because we were punching into it at 25 knots. Here, things are gentler but the wind is a little stronger at 18-20 knots. The weather’s good. There are flying fish and a lot of apparent wind so we’re not leaving the cockpit much.” 

At the 15:00 UTC position report, there were still 2,358 miles to go for the Cammas / Caudrelier duo. Though the climb up the North Atlantic could prove to be quick, it is no less demanding with some tricky passages on the cards where punctuality will be key. At this current pace, we could be in for a finish in Brest midway through next week.


Doldrums ambiance

In the Atlantic and in sailing, passing from one hemisphere to another involves crossing swords with the famous doldrums. For the second time in less than 19 days, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier have had to negotiate this zone, which is renowned for its instability and very often proves to be a stumbling block. With incessant manœuvres in a fickle breeze and blazing sunshine, the Gitana Team duo spared no effort in their bid to thread their way to the North and the gateway to the trade winds as quickly as possible. Yann Riou takes us for a ride amidst the stress of the Doldrums from inside the cockpit of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild



Ranking on 29 November 2019 at 15:00 UTC

1. MAXI EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD (Franck Cammas / Charles Caudrelier / Yann Riou) - distance to the goal: 2,358.7 miles - average speed over the past 30 mins: 22.7 knots 

2. MACIF (François Gabart / Gwenolé Gahinet / Jérémie Eloy) – 544.2 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 20.9 knots

3.ACTUAL LEADER (Yves Le Blevec / Alex Pella / Ronan Gladu)– 619.7 miles behind the leader - average speed over the past 30 mins: 17.1 knots 

RETIREMENT - SODEBO ULTIM 3 (Thomas Coville / Jean-Luc Nelias / Martin Keruzoré)

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