Back to the Atlantic
The Grand Prix du Portugal – Portimao will take place from 14 to 16 July. Gitana 11 and Gitana 12 have arrived in the small Algarve port and the crews are due to start training in situ tomorrow to familiarise themselves with the waters. After the 3 Grand Prix in the Mediterranean, this Atlantic event promises to be an exciting new challenge.
A brief history…

In days gone by, Portimao was a favoured port of call for Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian vessels due to the excellent mooring offered by its spacious bay opening out from the Arade River estuary. Between Sagres, the historic town with its Marine Academy housing the nautical documents created by Henry the Navigator (1390-1460), and Lagos, the port once densely populated with naval shipyards, Portimao is focused firmly on fishing, especially sardines in summer. In this region of the Algarve, a veritable natural amphitheatre towered over by the mountains which bound the Iberian Peninsula, the climate is Oceanic, but in summer it very rarely rains here.

Fairly mild weather conditions…

In fact, during this summer period, a gentle area of low pressure settles in over Spain, while the Azores anticyclone moves up towards Europe. Consequently, a north to north-easterly flow forms along the coast of Portugal from Porto to Cape Saint Vincent, known as the “Portuguese trade winds”. But from the other side of Southern Portugal's most extreme cape, the breeze is more westerly-orientated and picks up depending on the temperature (between 25° and 30° in July at midday) during the afternoon. The water surface is relatively undisturbed by the relief, as the cliffs are fairly low and the immense beaches lie between rocky outcrops.
As a result, the weather conditions for the Grand Prix de Portimao are likely to be characterised by a westerly breeze of roughly 10-12 knots in the morning, rising to 15-18 knots around 16:00 with the thermal wind, and then dying down by the end of the day while adopting a more northerly direction. In other words, for the start of the Grand Prix de Portimao week, the meteorological situation is fairly standard, since an area of low pressure has stabilised over the Iberian Peninsula and even though the Azores anticyclone is lower than usual over this summer period, it remains wedged over the ocean off Portugal, generating favourable northerly trade winds along the west coast of the peninsula.

So the sailing conditions for this Portuguese meeting are practically perfect.

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