Since leaving Hong Kong on Thursday, the crew of Gitana 13 has covered nearly 570 miles, but a little less than 500 miles VMG; a slight difference due to the tacks the 33 metre maxi-catamaran has had to make, particularly during the course of yesterday: “We are still close-hauled on starboard tack and we'll have to tack again this morning. We tacked four times yesterday in order to follow the shifts in the wind. We're not sparing our efforts on deck, even though the particularly mild sea conditions mean that the manœuvres are fairly simple” explained Ronan Le Goff.
These tack changes are the price you have to pay to hunt down the steadier breeze to the west of the direct course: “The good news is that the wind has filled in. We currently have a wind at 225 (south-west sector), which is reaching 17 to 18 knots. The air is still as heavy as before and is accompanied by a stifling heat. Last night, we were even able to spot a few streaks of lightning in the distance” commented one of the three bowmen aboard.
True to form, the China Sea has already brought the ten sailors its share of encounters: “There are a good number of fishermen alongside us, as well as cargo ships. We passed four of the latter this morning within a short space of time. There are a fair number of drifting fishing nets too. Whatever happens you really have to be on your guard but all's going well for the time being. Those crew who were involved in the Asian Tour between Yokohama and Hong Kong are fairly knowledgeable about this matter… However, we have passed some craft which appears to have fish drying capabilities. The aroma they gave off, even several boat lengths away, was quite incredible!” added Ronan Le Goff.
Ronan Le Goff, a highly experienced sailor
A loyal member of the Gitana Team, Ronan Le Goff was a bowman for a vast number of years during the multihull Grands Prix. Sailing alongside Franck Cammas at the start of the year, Ronan wasn't able to form part of the crew during the Route de l'Or or the North Pacific Crossing, but he wouldn't have missed the Tea Route for ‘all the tea in China!' And even though this seventh record represents his first navigation of 2008 with Lionel Lemonchois and his crew, he's still one of the sailors who best knows the boat. Indeed, the Breton has sailed one and a half times around the world aboard Gitana 13: in 2002, during the victorious Jules Verne Trophy with the crew of Bruno Peyron in 64 days, and then the following year with the English sailor Ellen MacArthur after the maxi-catamaran was sold on. That Jules Verne attempt sadly ended with a dismasting to the SE of the Kerguelen Islands.
Gitana 13 left Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55'32'' (UT)
Saturday 16th August at 07h15 (UT), Gitana 13 was sailing at 13°N 45.53 N/113° 15.23 E
In 1990, Philippe Monnet took 67 days 10 hours and 26 minutes to complete this course between Hong Kong and London.
Watch No1: Lionel Lemonchois (Skipper / watch leader / helmsman) / Olivier Wroczynski (trimmer /head of computers and power) / David Boileau (Bowman / head of deck fittings)
Watch No.2: Ludovic Aglaor (watch leader / helmsman) / Laurent Mermod (trimmer) / Ronan Le Goff (Bowman)
Watch No.3: Pascal Blouin (Watch leader / helmsman) / Ronan Guérin (trimmer) / Léopold Lucet (No.1, head of supplies and doctor)
Outside the watch system: Dominic Vittet (navigator)