Tea Route Record

The maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 has been sailing in southern latitudes since last night. After a fifth and rather unproductive day at sea, Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew crossed the equator shortly before midnight (UTC). This passage into the southern hemisphere, combined with the establishing of the SE’ly tradewinds marks a new start in the record attempt between Hong Kong and London. On Wednesday morning, the Sunda Strait was just 200 miles ahead of Gitana 13.

Lemonchois and his men have had to extract themselves from a zone of light winds, which were barring their route. Dominic Vittet confided from the chart table: “Last night we finally hit the SE’ly tradewinds, after a day which I can best describe as laborious. We opted to cross the Doldrums, which stretched between Borneo and Singapore, on the Indonesian side. We stayed with the breeze the whole time but some big clouds, which are fairly characteristic of this zone, blocked the establishing of the tradewinds and hence the hour of our deliverance‚Ķ We just had to be patient!”

However, this patience has been rewarded since Gitana 13 is now making good headway at over 20 knots on its way to the Java Sea. In order to get there they will go through the Gaspar Strait; a narrow passage which separates the Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belintung.

“We’re finally having some fun,” added Vittet. “The SE’ly tradewind has kicked in and is pushing us along towards the Gaspar Strait at what is at last a speed worthy of Gitana 13. It’s a fairly narrow passage – 2 miles wide – and pretty shallow, but the current conditions are enabling us to adopt this route, which will reduce the distance to the Sunda Strait.”

The day ahead will consist of a passage across the Java Sea; a zone famed for its numerous oil rigs, as well as many fishing boats. This, added to the proximity of the coast, will require a good dose of vigilance on the part of the ten sailors, especially as they will have to negotiate it under the cover of darkness.

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