After a rather inhospitable start to the course, Lionel Lemonchois and his crew have benefited from some ideal conditions over the past 48 hours to devour the miles. In so doing, they have consolidated their lead over the current record holder, Olivier de Kersauson and his crew aboard Geronimo, who achieved a time of 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes and 41 seconds: “The skies have turned blue over the past few days; the outside temperature is ideal and we're sailing downwind in a breeze which is sufficiently strong to ensure we make good headway. In addition, the albatrosses are sizing up Gitana 13 in the surf, so what more could you possibly ask for?" said the skipper of the maxi-catamaran ironically.
“For this second record in our 2008 campaign, we have sought to make Gitana 13 as light as possible. As a result we've only the minimum of diesel and spare parts aboard. This modification has been very successful as the boat's performance has dramatically improved. We are ahead of our routing and we're making the polars work at 105 %, which is a fairly good sign” detailed a satisfied Lionel Lemonchois. The reasoning behind this is that since leaving San Francisco, the crew of Gitana 13 have maintained an average speed of over 22 knots despite some rather uncomfortable sailing conditions during the first three days. Of note is the fact that yesterday the maxi-catamaran clocked up its best mileage so far over a 24 hour period, racking up 612 miles.
As usual, the Lionel Lemonchois / Sylvain Mondon duo have managed to hone Gitana 13's trajectory as finely as possible, in order to save on or even minimise the manœuvres aboard the maxi-catamaran. In fact, since slipping under the Golden Gate bridge last Saturday, the eleven sailors have only made two changes of tack; a mere bagatelle given the 2,888 miles covered to date.
Currently on starboard tack, trucking down the southern edge of the vast zone of high pressure to their north, the sailors of Gitana Team are preparing to negotiate a new ridge of high pressure this evening. At that point Lionel Lemonchois and his men will have to put in a gybe.
Kojiro Shiraishi: the eleventh man
Usually sailing in a configuration of ten, the crew of Gitana 13 have welcomed the Japanese sailor Kojiro Shiraishi aboard for this North Pacific crossing. He has proven to be a very special recruit who has brought both his vision of sailing and life in general to the maxi-catamaran.
A disciple of the great Japanese solo sailor Yukoh Tada, this 40 year old sailor has three round the world voyages to his credit, two of which were races. The youngest man to complete a circumnavigation of the globe under sail in solo configuration and without stopovers, Kojiro was then just 26 years old. Four years later, he embarked alongside Bruno Peyron on the catamaran Explorer for a record between Yokohama and San Francisco. The year 2000 marked his arrival in the ocean racing scene. He took the start of the 2002-2003 edition of Around Alone, where he ranked 4th in category 2. In 2006, it was at the helm of a 60 footer, the former Temenos owned by Swiss sailor Dominique Wavre and rechristened Spirit of Yukoh, that he participated in the Velux 5 Oceans. At the end of a Round the World dominated by Bernard Stamm, Kojiro came a highly credited second and achieved his first podium finish in a big ocean race.
*UT: Universal time corresponds with GMT.
The watches aboard Gitana 13
Watch No.1: Lionel Lemonchois / Olivier Wroczynski / David Boileau / Cyril Dardashti
Watch No.2: Ludovic Aglaor / Jean-Baptiste Epron / Nicolas Raynaud / Kojiro Shiraishi
Watch No.3: Jacques Vincent / Stefan Fodor / Léopold Lucet
A few figures
Gitana 13 on 4th April at 11h30 (GMT)
Latitude: 27°35.57N – Longitude: 172°29.38W
Speed: 24 knots – Heading: 299°
Lead over the current record: 585 miles
Distance left to go: 2,472 miles
North Pacific crossing (San Francisco – Yokohama):
Time to beat – 14 days 22 hours 40 minutes 41 seconds
Departure from San Francisco – on Saturday 29th March at 22h45'45'' UT
Latest finish date to beat the record - Sunday 13th April at 21h25'26'' UT
Route de l'Or (New York – San Francisco, via Cape Horn):
43 days 3 minutes 18 seconds (time approved by the WSSRC), improving on Yves Parlier's previous reference time by over 14 days.
Lionel Lemonchois and the crew of Gitana 13 have held this record since 28th February 2008.