Choice of course
The maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group has left the NE'ly tradewind today to close on a stormy low off Madeira. The negotiation of this phenomenon, which will occupy Lionel Lemonchois and his men over the coming days, is particularly significant as the end of the course and Gitana 13's arrival will depend on this. This morning the maxi-catamaran was positioned less than 2,000 miles from the entrance to the River Thames.

On the programme for this 34th day at sea are some close-hauled tack changes. Indeed, the crew of the maxi-catamaran will have to make a series of tacks in front of a stormy low, moving towards them from Spain. However, this extremely atypical low is requiring a great deal of thought from the tacticians of Gitana 13: “It involves a mass of heat which has moved across from Spain and has been transformed into a stormy low. This has come about as the result of a large thermal impact between the hot air to the south of us and the cold air dropping down from the north. For the time being, the southern part of this phenomena is having a great deal of difficulty in organizing itself, which is making it hard for us to approach it” admitted Dominic Vittet. 

The coming days are set to be a challenge then aboard Gitana 13, as the crew will have to find the right compromise to stand a chance of making good speed to Cape Finisterre: “Two options are open to us: we can either tack ahead of the low and opt to traverse the zone as late as possible, but that would imply a lot of upwind sailing, which you'll understand by now isn't really our thing, nor that of the boat! Or we can attempt to go round to the south of the low as fast as we can so we can benefit from some downwind conditions, but that would put us at risk of encountering some light zones across our course.”

Beside the weather, a number of others matters are fuelling conversations on the deck of the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild. The initial focus is on the food, which after 34 days at sea is becoming a recurring subject! The sailors are beginning to grow weary of the rather tasteless freeze-dried dishes, which are essentially in a powdered format that has to be rehydrated with hot water. With the person in charge of supplies embarking 40 days of food at the request of the skipper, diversity is starting to lack on the now, rather monotonous menu. As a result it is easy to understand the desire for meat, fruit, vegetables and other fresh produce that certain members of the crew are sharing with us. 
Finally, their arrival date in London is another topic of discussion, as the onboard navigator describes: “Naturally it's one of the main topics of the moment… as we gradually approach our goal, we're trying to refine our ETA, but it's really not a simple thing to do. 24th September maybe? This will be particularly dependent on our crossing of the Bay of Biscay.”

A few figures
Gitana 13 left Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55'32'' (UT)
Wednesday 17th September at 0745UT, Gitana 13 was sailing at 26°04.92 N /25°25.08 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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