Gitana 13 off Cape Verde
It wasn't easy but the Doldrums are now just a memory in Gitana 13's wake as the crew have been sailing on starboard tack in the tradewinds of the northern hemisphere since yesterday afternoon. With over 32 days at sea to their credit, Lionel Lemonchois and his men still have 2,467 miles to cover before they make the Elizabeth II Bridge at the entrance to the River Thames, and the end of their voyage. The maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group is currently passing off the Cape Verde islands, which the crew have opted to leave to port.

Despite the proximity of the coast, communications were difficult this Monday morning. However, after several fruitless attempts, Léopold Lucet succeeded in giving us the news from on board: “It is 0900 hours in France, but it's still night here and we can only just make out the first light of day. We're sailing close-hauled as scheduled, with a 10-15 knot breeze. We've had a gentle but very long swell for the past three or four hours, which is enabling us to make headway at between 13 and 15 knots; conditions are rather calm.” Lionel Lemonchois and his men are thus benefiting from this calm sailing in the NE'ly tradewinds to regain their strength.
Indeed, since their passage of the equator last Wednesday night, and with their crossing of the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone  beginning last Friday, the sailors of Gitana Team have only had a little respite over recent days. Today they're savouring the end of what is always a stressful zone: “On Saturday night we encountered some big storms. It was a mixture of the fires of the festival of St Jean and the evening of the 14th July (two fantastic albeit hectic celebrations in France)… with rumbling thunder and forks of lighting striking just along from where we were. We're not unhappy to be free of this zone. We never had any violent increases in wind force in the squalls, quite the contrary in fact as we suffered from calm conditions in the main. That was just as stressful though as at any time you can get stuck under a cloud without wind” confided Léo. 

However, this period of recuperation will be short-lived for Lionel Lemonchois and his nine man crew. The reasons for this are that, as Sylvain Mondon predicted, the forecasts for the climb up the North Atlantic seem to be confirmed: “The current situation is fairly complicated since the disturbed W'ly air flow usually situated between 40 and 50° north has been shifted towards Iceland by the high pressure settling over the U.K. This configuration is enabling a stormy low to develop over Spain during the start of the week, and then it will move between Madeira and the Azores at the end of the week. Since no front will be able to encourage the downwind conditions synonymous with rapid progress, they'll have to make use of the winds produced by the slow moving stormy low. Nevertheless, in order to hit the favourable S'ly winds of between 20 and 25 knots, they will have to sail close-hauled for several days beforehand and cross the residual ridge of high pressure from the Azores High.”

A few figures
Gitana 13 left Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55'32'' (UT)
Monday 15th September at 0745UT, Gitana 13 was sailing at 15°54.07 N / 21°32.28 W

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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