Lionel LEMONCHOIS and his ten crew onboard Gitana 13 already have 1,000 miles on the counter after setting out from San Francisco on Saturday night on their attempt at the Transpacific east to west record.
In order to make the maximum of headway on Gitana 13's journey to Yokohama, skipper Lionel LEMONCHOIS (FRA) has opted to follow a course coloured by feisty conditions, putting a strain on both the men and the machine. The strategy has paid off however as at this morning's 07:30 ranking, the sailors of Gitana Team had clocked up 1,000 miles towards the goal and had a lead of over 324 miles on the current reference time of Geronimo. Aboard the maxi-catamaran equipped by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, everyone is adapting to this badly paved route and relishing the opportunity to defy the stopwatch in this east to west crossing of the North Pacific.
"The sea and the wind calmed down increasingly this afternoon and we've been making the most of it to recuperate and sponge down the boat,"
recounted Olivier WROCZYNSKI yesterday evening. You can well imagine that beam on to winds gusting to over 30 knots with messy seas constantly dumping onto the deck of Gitana 13, nothing aboard is simple: communicating, eating, sleeping… all this requires a certain dexterity.
As a result, the temporary calm which the 11 crew experienced yesterday, shortly before tackling their third day, was much appreciated: "It's almost like a holiday at the moment if you compare this to the conditions we encountered during the first two days sailing. We've been able to knock up our first meal - in as much as freeze-dried food can be considered as such - and the menu comprised pasta with wild mushrooms. Prior to that our diet since leaving San Francisco has consisted of cereal bars and chocolate, which are quickly devoured and require no preparation,"
After over three days at sea, the sailors of Gitana Team have got into the rhythm of the watches imposed by an eleven man crew configuration: "You always need at least two or three days before you adapt to the broken sleep of the watches; you sleep an average of 3 hours every 6 hours,"
explained the crew member who everyone has nicknamed Zolive.
From this morning onwards, the wind is set to fill in again and for LEMONCHOIS and his crew, who are still reaching (sailing beam on to the wind), some rather uncomfortable hours lay ahead once more. However, as everything comes to those who wait… at the end of the day, they may well be able to bear away slightly and finally benefit from some more manageable conditions to lengthen their stride with all their sails aloft.
The Record To Beat
Record: Transpacific E to W, San Francisco - Yokohoma
Skipper: Olivier DE KERSAUSON (FRA)
Dates: April 2006
Elapsed time: 14 days, 22 hours, 40 minutes and 41 seconds
Distance: 4,482 nm
Average Speed: 12.49 knots
Gitana Team - www.gitana-team.com
World Sailing Speed Record Council - www.sailspeedrecords.com