Approaching a stormy low-pressure system
Lionel Lemonchois and his crew of nine have been sailing along the coast of Brazil for the past 24 hours. At 14° south latitude, the mood is summery onboard Gitana 13. The stifling heat inside the maxi-catamaran's hulls requires shorts and t-shirts. On deck, however, oilskins are quickly donned once the speedometer tops 20 knots.
Ten days on the same tack

Gitana 13's crew has not changed tack since sailing out of New York on January 16—a distance of over 5,000 miles.  This remarkable fact points to the good string of weather that Team Gitana has experienced. “We haven't tacked or jibed since crossing the starting line at the foot of Ambrose Lighthouse. It's incredible, we've been on port tack (Ed.: meaning the wind comes in over the left side of the boat) since 16 January. Our first change of tack is planned for tomorrow—Saturday—in the afternoon,” said Dominic Vittet.

On Thursday, Lionel Lemonchois and his crew took advantage of a slower-than-normal day in terms of sail changes and adjustments to recharge their batteries. “In recent hours, we have strictly followed the watch system (Ed.: the first watch on deck, the second on stand-by and the third resting), so that everyone can get a maximum of rest,” said Vittet. “Lionel, as part of his expert crew management, decided to include me on certain watches as we neared and then crossed the Doldrums. But then, the return of more stable conditions has freed me from watch duty to focus on the weather. At least for the time being...” Vittet, the onboard navigator, is already hard at work on the next weather challenge on this route from New York to San Francisco.

According to Sylvain Mondon's latest forecast, a stormy low-pressure system will form up ahead, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, during the day Saturday. This weather activity will force the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild to put some distance between it and the coast of Brazil. The idea is to sail around the eastern side of this zone before steering back toward the Great South Land and Cape Horn. The team hopes to round Cape Horn on or about 2 February.

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