Abeam of Cape Verde
Nicely positioned on the tradewind expressway in a well-established north-easterly breeze, Edmond de Rothschild and Oman Air Musandam are continuing their rapid descent of the North Atlantic bound for the equator. Late this afternoon, the two travelling companions left the first islands that make up the Cape Verde archipelago abeam of them. Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier were the first to put in a gybe to set a course to the west, while the Gavignet Foxall duo opted to continue their journey southwards. These differences in viewpoints explain why the Omani boat appears to have made up some ground at the 1600 GMT position report. In fact, each of the crews is refining its trajectory as it prepares to tackle the infamous Doldrums and, most importantly, adjust the point at which it hopes to enter the latter weather phenomenon.
Life at speed

Sébastien Josse has a clear voice when he calls his shore crew at midday:The dampness is a constant aboard. We’re making fast headway and the deck is being washed by the spray. For the past forty-eight hours though, conditions have been much more manageable. We’ve succeeded in taking it in turns to get some rest and last night was a lot more pleasant than those that have gone before with some long siestas lasting nearly 2 hours. We’re running a more normal watch system now with two hours at the helm and each of those sessions followed by two hours of rest, during which we can eat, get the latest information sent by our routers and sleep,” the skipper of Edmond de Rothschild explains.

Despite the average speeds maintained by the 70-foot one-designs over the past few days – nearly 600 miles was covered by Edmond de Rothschild in the past 24 hours – it shouldn’t be forgotten how demanding and precise the piloting has to be on machines such as these when they’re powered up making between 25 and 30 knots: “The periods at the helm are really intense and our eyes rarely leave the true wind indicator. If you crack off 5° the boat takes off, but if you pinch 5° too high the boat comes to a standstill. We’re on the attack and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflection. On my last watch, it was only when I passed the helm to Charles that I noticed the trampolines were full of flying fish!” Sébastien Josse says with an amused air, the anecdote indicative of the degree of concentration required on a constant basis aboard the trimaran fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild.

At the gateway to the Doldrums tomorrow

From tomorrow, the organisation described above by Sébastien Josse is likely to be under pressure once again with their predicted entry into the infamous Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (read the low-down below). Indeed, tomorrow, the two 70’ trimarans will make their grand entrance into the Doldrums, a passage famed for its meteorological instability, which often turns into a headache for the navigators. “This transition zone is always stressful as you can lose all the credit you’ve acquired over previous days here. It’s a place where you have to deal with a series of squalls and both of us are sure to be on deck together so that we’re ready to react as quickly as possible,” concluded the skipper of Gitana Team.

From this evening through until their exit from the Doldrums, the sailors will switch mode so that they can focus on dealing with a given situation at short notice with the emphasis on observation.

Low-down on the Doldrums or the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)

A dreaded navigation zone, the Doldrums consist of a belt of low pressure zones around the Earth and bordering the equator, which span several hundred kilometres from north to south. They are formed by the convergence of warm and wet anticyclonic air masses moving in from the tropics and carried along by the tradewinds. As a general rule of thumb, they are characterised by some sizeable cumulonimbus formations.

Ranking on Tuesday 12 November at 1600 GMT:
  1. Edmond de Rothschild (Josse-Caudrelier) 2,965.4 miles to go /28.3kt average over 2 hours
  2. Oman Air-Musandam (Gavignet-Foxall) 29.9 miles behind the leader /29.1kt average over 2 hours



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