A Night In The Doldrums
One by one the boats entered the doldrums overnight. Veolia Environnement yesterday evening, Hugo Boss at 02:00, Delta Dore, Mutua Madrilena at 04:00, Temenos II at 04:30, Estrella Damm at 05:45...
Since yesterday at 18:00 PRB has always been sailing faster than Paprec Virbac 2... the difference between the leaders in favour of PRB by 16 miles at 01:00, 17 miles at 05:45 and now at 08:00 at whopping 31 miles.
The better way to cross the doldrums clearly appears to be where PRB and Veolia made their attempt. And now Hugo Boss, Delta Dore, Mutua and Temenos are trying a similar approach.
The scoring gate at Ferenando de Noronha was 426 miles away at 06:00, so it looks like the leader will arrive there near midday on Tuesday.
Day 15: Compression And Pressure
Early Sunday morning, the leaders of the Barcelona World Race, entered the dreaded doldrums zone, an area characterised by light, fluky winds, thunderstorm and rain cells and confused, lumpy seas. Not surprisingly, the first placed boat in the fleet, Paprec-Virbac 2 was the first to slow down and eventually lost her lead.
Yesterday, the then second-placed PRB began to rapidly close distance with the leader. Over the course of the day, PRB gained some 40 miles on the leaders, eventually overhauling them late in the evening.
"We are not celebrating yet," cautioned PRB skipper Vincent RIOU yesterday, who elected to tackle the doldrums just over 30 miles to the west of Paprec-Virbac 2. "As we have not even crossed 2-degrees north latitude [when the doldrums typically end] it is not over."
RIOU went on to say that he and co-skipper Seb JOSSE have lugged all of the sails on deck, so they'll be in a better position to make quick sail changes in the rapidly changing conditions.
Further back, Delta Dore remedied one concern of co-skipper Sidney GAVIGNET (FRA) as they gained miles to the west on Saturday night, gybing on favourable windshifts in order to position themselves closer to the rest of the fleet. On Saturday, GAVIGNET said he wasn't entirely comfortable with how far to the east Delta Dore was positioned, but he was hesitant to make the call to gybe to the west.
In very general terms, it is usually slightly quicker to cross the doldrums further to the west. But to get there means sacrificing miles to the south in the trade winds. And a more westerly position can be slightly disadvantaged after coming out of the doldrums when the boats pick up the southeasterly trade winds. Like many aspects of this race, it's a delicate balancing game and whoever gets it right will reap the rewards.
Barcelona World Race - http://www.barcelonaworldrace.org