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.