The two leaders progressed at 11 knots speed to the south during Monday night, enjoying the southeast tradewinds and at 06:00 UTC had 160 miles to run to the next scoring gate at Fernando de Noronha.
Behind, the next six boats were still battling the doldrums which seem to have expanded slightly to the south compared to yesterday. Estrella Damm for example, was still quite slow, 70 miles to the east of the route of where Paprec Virbac 2 crossed the same latitude yesterday.
Educacion sin Fronteras is still in the NE trade winds, sailing at 12 knots keeping fingers crossed for a quick run through the doldrums.
PRB Grabs The Lead
For the crucial passage through the doldrums, PRB was set up about 30 miles to the west and this made all the difference - the distinctive orange boat emerged from doldrums on Monday morning over 20 miles ahead. Paprec-Virbac 2 was up to speed again not long afterwards.
"It will be a straight road now to Fernando de Noronha and as usual the atmosphere is good on the boat," RIOU confirmed by phone on Monday morning. "Of course it is great to be ahead having passed Paprec-Virbac just now."
On Paprec-Virbac 2, Jean-Pierre DICK, was not dwelling on the lost time but looking ahead to Fernando de Noronha. "We were a little surprised by the result; we were not expecting such different conditions between where we passed through the doldrums, [longitude 27.30 west] and where PRB and Veolia [longitude 28.30 west], and there was a huge difference in wind in those two positions which was reflected in our dropping from first position. But it is all behind us now; we have a new race beginning and it is going to be a speed race from here to Fernando de Noronha, which will be very interesting too," he said.
Late on Monday afternoon, most of the fleet was enveloped by what a rather tame doldrums. For most, speeds were in single digits as the skippers tried to weave their way between rain squalls and thunder cells. The doldrums are hard work for the sailors; with winds between three and 30 knots, sail changes come fast and furious.
"Last night [Saturday night] at around 21:00 we went into our first cloud, got hammered by 30 knots and made our first sail change and then we haven't really stopped since about 8:00 this morning and then its just been start-stop, start-stop," was the way Alex THOMSON (GBR) described the experience on Hugo Boss on Sunday night. A sail change can take up to 20 minutes and THOMSON says they made five or six overnight. He says there wasn't a lot of sleep.
But if the winds in the doldrums were annoying for the sailors, the weather does have its positive aspects. For most of the sailors, the rain showers were a welcome opportunity to bathe and get clean after the heat and humidity of the equatorial latitudes.
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