“I think their memory of the stormy squall they encountered at around 0200 GMT this morning will remain with them for a long time to come,” says router Antoine Koch, he too having spent the entire night without getting any shut-eye. “Charles was at the controls when he felt the electricity in the helm. Sébastien snatched the mainsail and felt the same thing. In an instant, the 12-knot northerly wind had veered round to the east and shot up to 33 knots! Fortunately, Seb and Charles had nicely anticipated this switch and had furled in the gennaker in the nick of time. Following on from this big fright the atmosphere was decidedly more fun. They were able to slip along for nearly four hours at good speed, heading due South towards the exit. After that, the wind suddenly abandoned them before kicking back in more steadily this morning to present them with an almost stable south-easterly breeze of around twenty knots.”
Striking it lucky in the Doldrums
The crew of the boat fitted out by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild has faired rather well in this ‘lightning’ negotiation of the Doldrums. “The aim is to make good speed in an area where it’s best not to hang around,” Antoine continues. “They managed to get through just before the zone expanded further and became more active, as will be the menu for the rest of the fleet in a few days’ time.”
On the attack
Credited with a lead of 80 miles over Oman Air - Musandam at the entrance to the Doldrums, Edmond de Rothschild has managed to hold onto the same advantage on exiting the zone. However, as you can see on the cartography, with her easterly separation, Oman Air-Musandam has managed to get to almost the same latitude as her travelling companion. Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall have staked it all so as to hunt down a favourable angle with which to slip along in the south-easterly tradewinds. For now, the wind remains steadier in the west.
The equator this evening
Sébastien and Charles are already within 100 miles of the equator, which they are set to reach over the course of this evening, at around 2000 GMT. In this way, Edmond de Rothschild will be the very first Multi70 in history to sail in the southern hemisphere. Even more remarkable is the excellent time the trimaran will have racked up to make the equator. Sailing double-handed, the crew should take a little over seven days and, if you just take into account their course from Ushant, their time is likely to border on that achieved by the maxi-trimaran Groupama 3 (105’ / 32m) helmed by Franck Cammas and his nine-strong crew during the first Jules Verne Trophy attempt in 2008. At that time, the skipper and his men took 6 days 6 hours 24 minutes and 18 seconds.
Ranking on Thursday 14 November at 1530 GMT:
- Edmond de Rothschild (Josse-Caudrelier) 2,083.6 miles to go /21.4kt average over 2 hours
- Oman Air-Musandam (Gavignet-Foxall) 81.12 miles behind the leader /22.8kt average over 2 hours