Route selection
This afternoon, Lionel Lemonchois and his nine-man crew will celebrate the end of their fourth week at sea. They left New York on Wednesday 16 January. As of this morning, the team still has 4,688 miles to go out of the 14,000-mile total distance.

The pace has picked up onboard Gitana 13, as can be seen in the 400 nm sailed in the past 24 hours. However, with boat speeds again exceeding 20 knots, the 10 sailors on the 33-meter catamaran are being kept busy. The watches execute the necessary maneuvers on deck in order to take the fastest route to the northern hemisphere. To stay in a fresh southeasterly wind of around 15 knots, the maxi-catamaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild will have to carry out a series of jibes as it works its way to the equator. These changes in tack have already begun: “We jibed a few times yesterday in order to stay in the flow of stronger trade winds. Our trajectory isn't exactly rectilinear, but we've been able to sail in a stronger breeze while keeping the wind at a favorable angle. The full main is up, along with the genoa staysail and the big gennaker: this sail configuration shouldn't change for a while,” said Dominic Vittet.

Gitana 13's strategy trio is already planning ahead. The boat is sailing this morning at 28°50 S, but the trio is already thinking about the equator crossing and the second Intertropical Convergence Zone that they will encounter along their record attempt between New York and San Francisco. “Lionel, Sylvain and I are thinking out the best route to take to the northern hemisphere. This decision will determine the point at which we cross the Doldrums. It will also set the stage for the last part of our trip to San Francisco,” said the onboard navigator.

Lemonchois and his crew have two options. They can decide to push farther northwest in order to cross the narrowest part of the Intertropical Convergence Zone. In this case, on the other side of the Zone they will have to deal with headwinds—not ideal for the maxi-catamaran. The second alternative is a route farther east. Negotiating the Doldrums will take longer and be more difficult, but the team won't have to sail close-hauled for very long before reaching the city of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Gitana 13's skipper will have to decide between these two options very soon...

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