The Maxi Edmond de Rothschild in the southern hemisphere
Yesterday morning, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild was the first to venture into the famous doldrums. Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier, firm fixtures at the head of the Transat Jacques Vabre race for the past six days, approached this zone with a comfortable lead over their rivals, albeit it with the trepidation that colours these fluky latitudes. For 24 hours, they had to battle to keep the boat well trimmed so as not to end up becalmed and keep the blue maxi-trimaran making headway to the south and the way out of the intertropical convergence zone. By late morning this Monday, even though the 32-metre giant was yet to post speeds worthy of her true potential again, they did seem to have extricated themselves from the area. As such, her skippers could turn their attention to the next stage of the programme: the passage into the southern hemisphere this evening and the long tack down to the waypoint of Trindade and Martim Vaz offshore of the Brazilian coast.
First in, first out 

Sailors are all too aware of it and that’s why they fear this passage where you can never take anything for granted! Indeed, the doldrums can often be unfair, as Charles Caudrelier reminded us yesterday.   And although it was a lengthy process, spanning nearly 24 hours, it hasn’t caused mayhem at the head of the race.  Indeed, the main goal was to be the first to get out and hopefully retain a comfortable lead over their rivals. In this regard, it’s fair to say that the 300-mile cushion that the Cammas - Caudrelier duo boasted over the second boat has shrunk considerably, but they’ve still managed to hold onto a sizeable margin. At 18:00 UTC, it was the crew comprising Armel Le Cléac’h and Kevin Escoffier who had moved up into the second spot some 156.4 miles astern of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild.  Furthermore, the trio of Ultimes in hot pursuit of Gitana 17 didn’t appear to be out of the ITCZ given the instantaneous speeds at the latest position report.   

“It’s never really the exit”, explained Franck Cammas with a touch of irony at midday, the skipper especially eager to latch onto the SE’ly trade wind and rediscover a steadier rhythm at the head of the race! “There are still a few clouds rolling over us, killing the wind, but things are gradually sorting themselves out… We need to be patient for a little while longer! Up next, we’re lined up for 2 days of beating / reaching towards Trindade with a few headsail changes, but in principle there are no major options on the cards. The route looks fairly simple, but we need to be quick and hence highly focused. These are the kind of conditions Charles and I like and they really suit the boat”, concluded the skipper from Aix-en-Provence.     

Shortly before 19:00 UTC, the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild entered the southern hemisphere! And so another race commence with 4,533 miles still left to cover to make the Antilles Arc and the bay of Fort-de-France.       

Positions on Monday 15 November at 19:00 UTC 

1. Maxi Edmond de Rothschild (F. Cammas / C. Caudrelier) 4,533 miles to the finish 
2. Banque Populaire XI (A. Le Cléac’h / K. Escoffier) + 165.7 miles 
3. SVR - Lazartigue (F. Gabart / T. Laperche) + 196.1 miles 
4. Actual (Y. Le Blevec / A. Marchand) + 210.7 miles 
5. Sodebo (T. Coville / T.Rouxel) + 534.4 miles  

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