A blustery start
On Wednesday 16 January at 5:29 pm (French time), Gitana 13 raced out of New York in its first record attempt of 2008: the Route de l'Or. Lionel Lemonchois and his crew of nine are headed for San Francisco via Cape Horn.

“We're making good progress. Since leaving New York, we've had a very unstable north-northwest wind varying between 15 and 28 knots. We were hit by wind gusts of up to 35 knots during our first few hours at sea,” said Dominic Vittet, onboard navigator.
These conditions have prevented Lionel and his crew from unfurling the maxi-catamaran's full potential: “The water, like the wind, is very unstable and really choppy. Because of this, Gitana 13 is not under full sail. The boat is cruising along at 20 knots with two reefs in the mainsail and the solent jib leading the way.”
Sylvain Mondon noted yesterday that the goal of the first few miles was to work their way east, for two reasons: to stay far enough from the US coast and to skirt around the Bermuda high-pressure system. “We're trying to stay ahead of a high-pressure ridge that will generate very weak winds. We need to stay in the flow of things and maintain our heading,” said Dominic.
After just over a day and a half at sea, Gitana 13 has been able to keep to the schedule set when they left New York. They should probably reach the northeast trades early next week. Onboard, the watch system dictates the pace of life, as the glacial cold of New York City gradually gives way to more pleasant temperatures.

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