The men onboard the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild were again knocked around by restive seas with winds gusting at 50 knots: and of course they were sailing close-hauled.
The waters along the Chilean coast lived up to their unforgiving reputation, as Gitana 13 had to weather another low-pressure system: “We got pretty battered about for the past few hours. We've had rain, wind and high seas...but that's par for the course in this area. The winds here are always relatively strong and unstable, which whips up difficult and uneven seas. We call these seas ‘boat-breaking',” said Lemonchois yesterday evening.
After the tumult, Gitana 13's ten sailors face totally different conditions today: a light breeze. Lemonchois and his crew are currently skirting around the Easter Island high-pressure systems lying to the west. After this transition, they will reach the southern-hemisphere trade winds. This transition area is tricky, with weak and shifty winds. They have to make it through as fast as possible.
They will then reach southeasterly winds, which translate into long reaches in sustained winds. “We're really looking forward to getting back into some milder weather. Not only for the improved sailing, but for the sake of the crew. We've been wrapped up in our oilskins for nearly 15 days, and we simply can't wait to strip off our layers of polar fleece,” said the skipper of Gitana 13.
As soon as it taps into the trade winds, the 33-meter catamaran will open up its stride and pick up the pace. There's only one concern, according to Lemonchois: “In the latest forecast, we see that the trades sometimes lose strength. We just need to hope that they come through for us."