The trade winds are well established south of the Canary Islands and look set to hold for most of the fleet as they race south/southwest toward the tropics and doldrums. Slower progress is expected for those still north of the Canary Islands where, although the trade winds are established, they are lighter.
With Cheminées Poujoulat now converging ever closer to their wake Hugo Boss have regained the lead of the Barcelona World Race as the leaders head for their Doldrums experience, the Equator tomorrow and consider medium term options in the south Atlantic.
As Neutrogena crosses the Equator this evening there will be a certain disparity of feelings between the two skippers, Guillermo Altadill and José Muñoz, a rare situation in a partnership which is clearly working well. For Muñoz, from Algarrobo, Chile, will look to the stars tonight and feel like he is sailing out of his home hemisphere, whilst Catalan Altadill will be marking his return to his home Northern Hemisphere.
The leaders in the Barcelona World Race, Jean Le Cam and Bernard Stamm, are this afternoon just 15 miles from the coast of North Africa, sailing at 15 knots off the coast of Casablanca.
The pair on board Cheminées Poujoulat have so far maintained solid boat speeds in moderate and shifty south-westerlies – 15 knots at this afternoon’s update – by sailing close to shore to avoid a high pressure system lodged over the Gulf of Cadiz. However, there will be little time for complacency as they approach the entrance to the largest port in North Africa, with shipping traffic as well as coastal weather effects to contend with for their final day of Atlantic sailing.
In my last post I wrote that I was psyched up and ready to take on the worst of the unpredictably fickle winds that the doldrums could throw at us. In my mind’s eye I was Al Pacino in “Any Given Sunday” giving his legendary locker room speech about how we would “climb outta hell… one inch at a time.” However we have had pretty smooth sailing, and I had a great time the night before last slaloming downpours with the big gennaker up while sometimes making 16 knots of boat speed over a piece of sea where 1.3 knots of wind were forecast. By the end of that one run we were a whole day and a half ahead of our routing! So much for fighting inch by inch.
Spirit of Hungary crossed the Equator back into the Northern Hemisphere at 1553hrs UTC this afternoon. Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman have taken 92 days 03 hrs 53 mins since the start on December 31st to return into Spirit of Hungary's 'home' hemisphere. They cross 5 day and 10 hours behind Renault Captur.