Gitana 13 heading towards Cape Finisterre
The maxi-catamaran in the colours of the LCF Rothschild Group is continuing to make towards Cape Finisterre, which she is set to round tomorrow morning. However, current sailing conditions mean the boat is on a beam reach, which is proving far from relaxing, and requires all the energy from a crew which has already been put to the test by the past 37 days at sea. Though the end of this record attempt between Hong Kong and London is close – Gitana 13 will pass under the 1,000 miles to go barrier during the course of today -, the last few days at sea will be just as tricky. Indeed, harsh, upwind conditions lie in store for Lionel Lemonchois and his nine man crew.

There was evidence of a long night for the crew of Gitana 13 in the voice of Dominic Vittet this lunch time. By flirting with the centre of the low which is accompanying their course towards Cape Finisterre, the men of Gitana 13 have had to deal with winds bordering on 40 knots and short, big seas: “Last night we were shaken about every which way. We passed very close to the centre of the low – around 20 miles away – in order to gybe with a more favourable angle for making headway towards Finisterre. This option gave us winds of around 40 knots, but most significantly the seas were virtually on the nose, short, choppy and with three to four metre waves”.

In conditions we can best describe as harsh – especially with Gitana 13 making headway on a reach -, life aboard the maxi-catamaran is complicated: “On deck, the men on watch are totally wiped out; it's a permanent hosing down! They are padded out in their foulies and all you can see is their eyes, reddened by the spray. Down below it's not really any better, as sleeping is a real challenge, as is eating” said the onboard navigator. However, Lionel Lemonchois and his men are taking it all in their stride as they know that this is the price they have to pay to reduce the distance still separating them from the finish in London. At the 1315 UT position report, the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild still had 1,050 miles to go to reach the end of its voyage. 

Sailing along the latitude of Lisbon this afternoon, the crew of the 33 metre maxi-catamaran was benefiting from a slightly more settled air flow – 25 knots, easing on the approach to the Iberian coast – to rack up the miles. Indeed a rendez-vous awaits them as they round Cape Finisterre, at the NW tip of Spain: “The steady NE'ly air flow we've been witnessing for several days over the Bay of Biscay doesn't seem to want to leave. We're now virtually certain that we'll have to traverse this zone close-hauled in harsh conditions: a NE'ly of between 20 and 30 knots according to the grib files. That's not great news for anyone here evidently and we'd been waiting for the outcome as you would the grand finale of a fireworks display! However, the quicker we arrive at the Cape the better the next stage will be” concluded Dominic Vittet.

Still positioned over 300 miles from Finisterre this Saturday afternoon, Gitana 13 is set to round the Spanish promontory late tonight or tomorrow morning and thus make her entrance into the Bay of Biscay.

A few figures
Gitana 13 left Hong Kong on Thursday 14th August at 07h55'32'' (UT)
Saturday 20th September at 1315 UT, Gitana 13 was sailing at 39°00.97 N /14°15.60 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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