• Reeling In The Miles

    Trade wind flight at last

    The efforts deployed by the men of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild since leaving Ushant on Sunday are bearing fruit on this fourth day of the record. To exploit the chosen weather window as best they can, Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier and their four crew have had to link together a series of gybes, extending the course which will lead them down towards the equator. Since this morning though, they’ve been making headway in the trade wind and have got nicely into the groove on port tack so as to exploit the true potential of the five-arrow flying maxi-trimaran. At 17:00 UTC, the latest of the Gitanas had again clawed back some miles in relation to her virtual adversary and boasted a lead of 115 miles.

    In the doldrums from tomorrow morning

    Every passage through the doldrums is unique and like no other. Just hours before they take on the first of this Jules Verne Trophy, since the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild will likely feel the first signs of it at 6° North, Franck Cammas shared his impressions with us: “We’ve had a bit of a long transition between Madeira and the trade wind, but since last night we’ve finally made it into the trade wind system and we’re going to have a good 24 hours of calmer sailing. Late tonight, we’ll enter the doldrums, a quite complex zone where we’ll have to do some manoeuvring. We’ll need to be patient I think, as you can end up in some wind holes. Unfortunately, I reckon we’ll attack that section late tonight or even in the early hours of the following day. It’s always a bit better and easier to negotiate it during the day as you can see the clouds coming and you can anticipate their arrival a little.”

    For now, the six men of Gitana Team are benefiting from a well-established NE’ly breeze in excess of 20 knots to pick up the pace. These conditions are particularly favourable for the 32-metre giant, which has managed to shake off the effects of the wind shadows created by the volcanic islands of Cape Verde and has since lengthened her stride. The average speed of 36.5 knots recorded in the last four hours bears witness to this.

    After those 4 days, Franck Cammas, one of the skippers aboard the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild and David Boileau, boat captain and crew, reveal all about the change of mode. Indeed, in a matter of hours, the men tear themselves away from land and pull on their sailor’s garb. What is their experience and how do they deal with this switch from landlubber to sailor?

    Franck Cammas : “Obviously the nights no longer resemble those on land”
    “The transitions are always brutal, between the departure where you have your whole entourage around you on the dock and the moment where you find yourself at sea, in a crew, alone or forming a pair; it’s always pretty brutal. And then obviously the environment and the comfort we have on land and what we have aboard is diametrically opposite, so you have to get used to that. We’re quite aware of this aspect and know that the first few days are never the easiest. We await the coming days… Right now, three days out, we’re in the process of really getting into the ambiance and we feel increasingly at ease. On the one hand, there’s the rhythm of the watches, 24/7. Obviously, we no longer have the complete nights you can have on land. You have to get used to waking up quickly or in some urgency when you have to put in a manœuvre. You have to get used to sleeping during the day too, that’s an important element, and then there’s the environment, the noise, the motion, the ability to prepare something to eat… It’s a lot more complicated on the boat, especially during the first few hours where generally we don’t make proper meals… You have to get your head round all these things, for daily life and for your health, and get yourself sorted so you can endure 40 days. One thing for sure is that we won’t have the same rhythm as we do on land!”

    David Boileau : “Hygiene is one of the major differences in terms of life on land”
    “The fact that we spent the first night at sea before crossing the line off Ushant at 01:30 UTC gives us the impression that we set sail the day before. Ultimately, after just two days, you feel like you’ve already spent a lot of time at sea… Your ability to adapt aboard is of varying degrees of complexity depending on the conditions you encounter at sea. In this instance, we’ve had milder conditions at the start than on our first attempt and, on a personal level, I’ve immediately got into a good rhythm. I’ve got my sleep pattern sorted straightaway. I haven’t had a problem getting off to sleep or recuperating. I’ve immediately felt good and relaxed on the boat from the get-go.

    I haven’t yet performed my ablutions since we set sail (laughs). Hygiene is one of the major differences in terms of life on land. We do what we can to stay clean, but you have to contend with the weather conditions and they dictate what you can do. At least I’m cleaning my teeth every day, which is something!”


    Jules Verne Trophy Info

    Position of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild on 13 January at 16:45 UTC:

    Lead in relation to the record: 115.3 nm
    Speed: 35.4 knots
    Course: 184°

    Numbers to note:

    Passage across the line: 10 January 2021 at 01h 33' 46'' UTC
    Deadline for beating the record: 20 February at 01h 3' and 15''


    A Cape Verdean sunrise
    As envisaged by the weather forecasts, the NE’ly wind picked up last night to between 25 and 30 knots between the Canaries and Cape Verde. After a series of lively exchanges with their router Marcel van
    Triest, Franck Cammas and Charles Caudrelier had left the door open to a more direct passage between the islands, albeit on the proviso that that sun had already risen in order for them to thread their way through the heart of the archipelago. In the end, given their progress, it is with an option via the west that the crew will ultimately round Cape Verde this morning, leaving sufficient room to avoid the effects of the wind shadow created by the volcanic islands in the sails of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild. Their lead over Francis Joyon’s record fluctuates every time the latest Gitana puts in a gybe or repositions herself to the west, but it has remained relatively stable at around 100 miles for several days.

    Favouring a more conservative trajectory

    On the approach towards the Cape Verdean archipelago, it was tempting to shoot straight between the islands of São Vicente and São Nicolau to target a more direct route down to the equator. However, snaking your way between these volcanic islands is never a trivial matter, particularly with a 32-metre flying maxi-trimaran powered up at full speed. “This passage was debated but ultimately abandoned after assessing the potential gains and the risks. Amidst wind shadows, accelerations, fishermen and the latter’s fishing pots, it’s not easy sailing for boats like ours. The deal was finally sealed by our passage time because it’s still dark so we would have lacked visibility as the nights are pitch black at the moment”, explained Yann Riou in his night message.

    The yoyoing miles

    The decision to pass to the west of the archipelago has cost the crew of the Maxi Edmond de Rothschild two new gybes and with them the logical losses incurred in relation to their virtual adversary. Indeed, during her attempt in 2016-2017, on this long tack towards the equator, Idec benefited from a weather pattern that enabled her to stay on the same tack. The men of Gitana Team aren’t able to enjoy the same configuration or a such a straight trajectory. Overnight, their biggest lead amounted to 177 miles, a figure which had dropped back down to 90 miles at 07:00 UTC. However, there’s nothing abnormal about this situation since the slightest repositioning to the west equates to an almost negative VMG.

    The positive message we can draw from this affair is that despite the numerous gybes racked up over the past two days, Franck Cammas, Charles Caudrelier and their four crew are still out in front and at the 07:00 UTC position report, the 32-metre giant was once again pointing her bows in the right direction on a course to the SSW.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Gitana Crew Packs Their Round The World Bags started by Photoboy View original post