Route d'Or attempt nears Equator

Having rounded Cape Horn two weeks ago, the maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 is located at 4°S, where the sailing is made difficult not by rough seas but by very high temperatures. Gitana and her crew left New York on the 16 January to attempt the Route d’Or record, non-stop to San Francisco.

Crewman Dominic Vittet commented on the weather, “The sun is blazing hot. What a contrast…five days ago we were wrapped up in oilskins, wearing gloves and hats! To protect themselves during watch duty, the guys have rigged a system of sheets to lessen the impact of the sun and heat.”

The crew of Gitana 13 have also made the most out of the relatively stable southeasterly breeze to get some much needed rest. Their goal is to hit the always tricky and unpredictable doldrums in top form. For once they cross the equator, the maxi-catamaran’s deck will come alive: watch duty will be filled with frequent sail and direction changes and a greater level of concentration.

But as could be expected, the zone where the northern- and southern-hemisphere trade winds converge does not want to give up its secrets yet: “We’re right on in terms of our chosen timing, but things could get interesting fast. Because ahead of us lies a big area of light winds that we haven’t yet decided how to approach. For now we’re planning on going around the east side of it, but out here things changes so fast that we can’t say with any certainty,” said the onboard navigator.

One thing seems certain: the maxi-catamaran will return to northern latitudes in the next 24 hours. Lemonchois and his crew will have spent nearly 27 days in the southern hemisphere (they crossed the equator on the Atlantic side on 23 January at 8:24am). Their equator-to-equator time could have been five days shorter had the weather been more cooperative when Gitana 13 rounded Cape Horn.