Skipper Marie Tabarly and her determined Pen Duick VI crew were first to cross the doldrums, reach the South Easterly Trades and yesterday morning first to cross the equator. She is now 337 nm ahead of their closest rivals Spirit of Helsinki. Cementing their dominance, Pen Duick VI is first overall and first in IRC handicap for the entire fleet, she has picked up the SE trades and is barreling ahead.
Crossing the equator traditionally involves a visit from the Roman God of the sea ‘Neptune’ and ‘a messy’ ceremony where the first-timers, nicknamed Pollywogs, graduate to become Shellbacks. Skipper Marie confirmed they had a ‘fun’ ceremony, but it’s not the time to lose focus.
“We are ahead, but we have to keep pushing. There are a lot of tricky places ahead and if we want to win we still have to arrive three days ahead.” said Marie. With Pen Duick VI’s IRC rating, they must arrive three days ahead of Translated 9 to take the IRC-winning title!
Meanwhile, Jussi Paavoseppä, skipper of the Swan 651, Spirit of Helsinki and Pen Duick VI closest rivals, are fighting hard to keep up. They’re days behind but also seem to have avoided the worst of the light winds, squalls and thunderstorms.
“All we are missing is cold beer and the wind.” said Jussi.
The rest of the fleet continues to snake their way through the patchy winds. Maiden and Translated 9 have been tussling it out for days side by side. In fact, they’ve gotten so close Maiden’s skipper Heather and co-skipper of Translated 9 Vittorio, have initiated an at-sea-blind-dating service over VHF. Un-named crew profiles are relayed back and forth between the opposing teams who then pick their blind dates being arranged for Cape Town! There might well be love in that very, hot sticky air! We’ll keep you posted.
“We’re very close, we can almost say ‘hello’ to them. When you see a boat so close to you your energy goes up and we want to show them we are faster.” says Skipper of Translated 9 Marco Trombetti.
But it would appear Maiden are the first to find the wind, just, with 15-20 knots filling in from the South East. On the most Easterly course and only entrant on the “other side” of the Doldrums is Outlaw AU (08), who on Tuesday rescued a sole male drifting in a 20ft canoe, 90nm off the coast of Dakar. OGR and Senegal/Dakar MRCC coordinated a rendezvous point, which would allow the mariner to be picked up by the Dakar Navy off the coast of Dakar. Skipper Campbell Mackie and his crew diverted 20 hours, towing the mariner and his canoe towards the meeting point. But within sight of land, another “mystery” canoe came alongside the stranded canoe and both departed together back out to sea without saying a word! Outlaw returned to the race with no further information on why the mariner was out there.
“I have been involved with quite a few situations where a racing yacht diverts to give assistance and it is usually a simple clinical process to decide compensation. This one was a nightmare because of the Doldrums and time on speed issues. 20 hours at 2 knots is only 40 miles. And Outlaw has moved into a completely different weather zone. None the less we believe this is fair.” Don McIntyre, OGR Director.
Outlaw are now experiencing all the delights of the doldrums.
“Started with a 35knt squall, sweltered through the day and ended it with no wind. Looking forward to some wind after the doldrums.” reported Outlaw.
“Wake up, tea, 60′ helm, trim spi, adjust route, eat, sleep, repeat 1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks, the route to south is long.” tweeted White Shadow.
“Well into the doldrums, we experienced our first squalls which were actually quite welcomed as used for our first shower since the start. But be reassured we were not that smelly- we have baby wipes to keep us clean.” Reported Triana.
Meanwhile, Galian WithSecure FI (06) admits to be struggling with the heat.
“For Finns from the north crossing the Doldrums and the Equator is a survival game. 34C inside the boat, deadly sun with no shade on the deck.” tweeted Galiana WithSecure.
After their broach earlier in the week which saw Sterna SA (42) knocked down for seven minutes, they are now reporting calmer conditions. They’re skirting the edge of the doldrums and if luck is on their side they might well escape the worst of the light winds.
“Light winds again. Making 6knts with the S2 and full main. Could this be the start of the doldrums.”tweeted Sterna.
Evrika FR (07) made a tactical move towards the East which might well prove problematic, with lighter winds and doldrum holes forecast.
And the crew of Explorer AU (28) continues on their gastronomical tour to Cape Town with a little bit of sailing thrown in.
“Lunch: Mexican wrap. Dinner: Spinnaker wrap.” and the latest tweet “Anyone know of a good sailmaker in Cape Town?”
Godspeed USA (01) are bringing up the rear as ‘Tail End Charlies!” nearly 700 miles astern. Currently sailing at 6knts they continue to benefit from the North East trades which are predicted to hold for the coming days. The latest satellite photos from onboard suggest they are racing extremely hard with complete concentration and commitment!