Lack of wind
This climb towards San Francisco is proving to be very difficult… Sailing abeam of the coast of Central America this Friday morning (Costa Rica, Nicaragua), the maxi-cataraman equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is hobbling along to its final destination, still some 1,880 miles away. The reason for this, as stated by the skipper of Gitana 13 yesterday, is that the final stretch of this Route de l'Or course isn't shaping up to be very favourable: this is a result of both the point of sail, which the prevailing NNE'ly winds are imposing on them and the lack of 'pressure' announced on the various grib files.

The Doldrums in their wake, Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew are now attacking a tough transition zone. The men of Gitana Team have had to battle relentlessly in light airs in order to force their way through to the NW. Conditions seldom allowed average speeds in excess of 7 knots for over five hours last night; a “torment” for both the maxi-catamaran and the crew, as Lionel Lemonchois remarked: “These light airs are always hard on the nerves as they require constant attention. We are trying to benefit from the whole sail area – full mainsail and large gennaker – in order to make the most of the slightest flurry of wind. During the day the sun is unbearable and we take shelter as soon as we can in the hulls of Gitana 13. The miles we've covered since the equator will certainly not be remembered as being the most pleasant of this record but we're putting up with it… Each mile made towards San Francisco doesn't have to be sailed again!”

In the next few miles, the tactics for the men on Gitana 13 will consist of distancing themselves from the coast by getting some westing into their trajectory. This separation should enable Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew to sail in a steadier air flow within the next 48 hours. Indeed, according to the wind files, the NE'ly tradewinds seem to be filling in – from 5 to 7 knots better – to the West of the maxi-catamaran's current course: “We're expecting a small right hand rotation to get some westing into our trajectory and join up with some steadier winds. Once we've hit this air flow, the wind will gradually back to the NE again” explained the skipper of Gitana 13 before concluding: “The outcome of our course is still hanging in the balance and with the low efficiency of late we have already become a little delayed as regards our timing. Unfortunately though, one thing for sure is that we've got some long hours of close-hauled sailing ahead of us."

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