Beyond shortening the course time and breaking records, speed enables you to play with the elements and not have to endure them. Rounding a zone of high pressure, avoiding a zone of calm or escaping a low are notions reserved for the few giants of the seas of which Gitana 13 is part. In its northern sector, the Indian Ocean is providing us with a well established ESE'ly tradewind, which is enabling us to maintain high average speeds under pleasant conditions. With 1,300 miles (around 2,400 km) covered in 48 hours, and a capability of doing at least 1,500 over the next three days, the contours of the playing field are a little closer in one sense. Mauritius is nearby, the African coast isn't far off and the Cape of Good Hope is already in our line of fire.
As the ocean gradually reveals its gameplan and the hypotheses take shape, we're refining our course. The white page laid before us at the entrance to the Indian is being written up, day after day, with details of the strategy in progress and some probable routes. We therefore hazard a programme outline: another three days where we can slip along the contours of the zone of high pressure in the Indian, followed by a period of transition towards the African coast with a SW'ly breeze veering North. And to end, a good W'ly storm with which to round the Cape of Good Hope. Perhaps we'll be sailing in the Atlantic by 31st August, which is an ocean we left at the end of January 2008 as we rounded Cape Horn.
The rapid shifting of our ‘home' is having a direct affect on the life of the crew. Making 2,500 km westwards means we've experienced nearly two hours' time difference in the space of two days! In fact we're going to change the onboard time tomorrow by passing from UT +8, which was the time in Hong Kong, to UT + 5. The miles we've covered towards the south have shortened the length of the days (we are in winter time here) and have reduced the temperature of the water from 12° C in Hong Kong to 7° C since Java. The spray is less pleasant and the showers more startling.
In the gangways, sleeping is no longer torture and we willingly envelope ourselves in our sheets. The guys have got out their technical underwear, and the first thin layer fleeces are being pulled on at night under our foulies. With the change of watch come some funny exchanges: “what are you wearing?” or even “it's still alright in shorts, but only just”: you have to adapt and be quick at it. This is a particular characteristic of north-south or south-north voyages; you're constantly changing season and sometimes this happens in the space of 24 hours. Anticipating and adapting remain the two golden rules for a sailor.
Dominic Vittet, in the middle of the Indian Ocean