The SE'ly tradewind in their sails
With all their sails aloft, the maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group is now benefiting from some fine conditions, slipping along in a SE'ly air flow characteristic of the southern hemisphere. Positioned in this vein of wind, Lionel Lemonchois and his men are continuing their climb towards the equator and are already considering how they're going to negotiate the famous doldrums. The passage they choose will determine the course adopted by Gitana 13 over the coming days.

Yesterday the 33 metre maxi-catamaran was flirting with the shores of Namibia; an opportunity for the crew to admire the desert and the enchanting landscape of this obscure country. Rather than the contemplation though, the men aboard Gitana 13 had come in search of some acceleration in the tradewind, observed along the coast: “The wind climbed as far as 35 knots and Gitana 13 was sailing under small gennaker with one reef in the mainsail at the time. Since then we've got back into a more classic tradewind pattern with 15 to 20 knots and all the sails on deck. The seas have calmed a great deal but there's still a slight undulation, which reminds us that the southern lows are circulating just south of us” explained Dominic Vittet.

Whilst the crew have benefited from the glorious weather and the mild sailing conditions to perform a general clean-up aboard Gitana 13 – washing down of the companionways with bleach, assiduous tidying of the living areas, organisation of the food for the rest of the voyage …-, Lionel Lemonchois has set about with the repairs of the forward section of the starboard beam. The onboard navigator describes this operation to us, whilst recognising the technical talents of their captain: “Lionel can to do anything with those ten fingers of his… he's a perfectionist and has a real passion for DIY. He's built two 6.50 (boats for the Mini-Transat) from his own hands and was the préparateur for a number of sailors (Isabelle Autissier, Catherine Chabaud …). Assisted by David in the preparation of the material, Lionel has laminated the exterior skin of the starboard hull, with the help of a strip of carbon and resin, in order to make the crack watertight. This forms the initial part of the repairs, as over the coming days, once the water ingress has been evacuated, he'll proceed with the interior repairs to the wound.”

At this time of year, winter reigns in the southern hemisphere, in contrast to the northern hemisphere which is slowly leaving summer… Though this has made the task of rounding South Africa more complicated for the sailors of Gitana Team, today it's an advantage. Indeed, the SE'ly tradewind which extends beyond the equator at this time of year, will rapidly propel Gitana as far as the edge of the doldrums, an area situated at around 4 degrees north and still some 2,400 miles away this morning.
According to the latest estimates from Sylvain Mondon, router for Gitana Team, the return to the northern hemisphere of the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild is scheduled for four days' time, on around 11th September. In the meantime though, Lionel Lemonchois and his men will have to make what is always a very tricky decision of where to pass through the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone.

A few figures
Gitana 13 left Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55'32'' (UT)
Saturday 6th September at 0824 hours UT, Gitana 13 was sailing at 22°46.48 S / 10°33.36 E

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)

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