The perils of the doldrums…
Having been in second position until Wednesday evening and chasing an Ecover who had built up a solid lead, the Loïck Peyron-skippered Gitana Eighty made a bold choice for the crossing of the invariably treacherous doldrums. At 16:00 today, as they await their emergence, hopefully in a matter of hours, from the clutches of this infamous zone, the blue monohull was back in a disappointing ninth place.

Located just to the north of the geographical equator, the doldrums are a kind of “meteorological equator” that represents the critical point of this Transat Jacques Vabre: all the skippers know it, whether they are the helm of a multihull or a monohull. Formed by highly complex, violent and unpredictable weather systems, the secret to their successful negotiation is to avoid the windless zones by surfing between the squalls order to emerge with the best possible angle for exploitation of the trade winds, which should propel them smoothly to the finish line.

In an echo of the strategy adopted by Gitana 11 a few days ago, Loïck Peyron chose to pass through the eastern section, the shortest route provided sufficient wind is present. But unfortunately, the doldrums closed in around the bows of the blue monohull, which explains the vessel's 9th position at 16:00 French time on Friday. As for the boats that opted for the more western route, they seem to have found the most favourable path and are starting to increase the gap. As usual, the notorious doldrums have reshuffled the pack of a fleet now spearheaded by Michel Desjoyeaux. Currently sailing large gennaker and mainsail up, Gitana Eighty hopes to emerge from this difficult passage in the next few hours and is not letting her head droop. After all, the race is not over yet.

Review of the last 24 hours
15/11/2007 - 18:11 - Loïck Peyron, Gitana Eighty: extract from the midday radio chat
It's anything but quick. We're in the middle of large squalls, classic doldrums really. Talk about cats and dogs! We've filled up a dozen litre water bottles. And this is real heavy tropical rain. There are quite strong storms, lightning, and raindrops the size of golf balls! What a lark! We hope to be out of it soon, but for the moment, the wind is highly variable and we're stringing together gybes, trying to tap into the slightest gust of air. The squalls are impressive, but there's only 15 to 20 knots of wind so they're not that dramatic. For the moment, our choice of strategy doesn't look particularly inspired, but we'll see. It's not over yet!

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