|DOLDRUMS-(14-11-2004) On a course much further west than that taken by his fellow competitors, Mike Golding (Ecover) is the great loser of the past 24 hours. Mike is now 180 miles behind Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle), who is well in the lead. He was forced to give up his sixth place to the Australian, Nick Moloney (Skandia), who is following the same course as the leader. The frontrunners went by the Cape Verde Islands in the middle of the day at an average of 12-13 knots. The next hurdle facing the competitors on their way towards the Equator is the Doldrums. The inter-tropical convergence zone is now only 600 miles away. They should be reaching this area renowned for its calms punctuated by violent squalls sometime on Tuesday.
Now there are only ten skippers within a hundred-mile range of each other. Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is up there with the four leaders. «I’ve been up the mast. It took me 15 minutes up there, but I finally managed to lower the spinnaker. However, I’ll have to go back up again to take care of the halyard. There’s a bit of work to be done on it.» Just like his nearest rivals, Vincent Riou and Sébastien Josse, Alex went through the middle of the Cape Verde Islands, leaving the islands of Sal and Boa Vista on the port side and the island of Sao Nicolau on the starboard beam. Nick Moloney, following the example set by the leader, is going to be passing between the islands and the Senegalese coast, taking advantage of a steady 10-15 knot north-easterly. «A few days ago, I told myself I should have tried the Figaro Race, before attempting the Vendée Globe. But now, everything is going well. I feel more and more confident and am pleased with my progress on this course. Mike Golding, on a course further to the west, is getting ready to go by the islands of Santo Antao and Sao Vincente. «I’m expecting the wind to pick up at that moment. I’ve finally reached the trade winds after a difficult night. Since the start I’ve done some things well and others less so. There’s still a long road ahead, and I believe I’m well-positioned to make it through the Doldrums.»
The Doldrums are fairly inactive
The good news for the skippers is that for the moment the Doldrums are not very active. According to Richard Silvani at the French Met Office, Météo France, they will begin to feel the influence of the inter-tropical convergence zone from 6 or 7° North, with the way out around 5° N. So the Doldrums are squashed up, with an ideal crossing point between 24 and 25° W. «When the Doldrums are not very active, it also means that the trades on either side are weak with winds blowing at only 10-15 knots. The skippers should manage to keep up an average speed of 10-12 knots to reach the convergence zone, before slowing a little, but not a lot, and then making off on the other side at the same speed in the trades, which will be south-easterly instead of north-easterly.»
There are less than 600 miles before they enter this zone, which the frontrunners should reach late on Tuesday.
Quotes of the leaders :
Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) : «What do I think about my fifty-mile lead? At one point I had 80! Now I’m waiting to see how my dear friends get on coming through the islands. I’m rather surprised they didn’t try following me. Maybe they’re thinking of what’s on the other side. One thing is clear. In amongst the islands, you can’t do everything you want. Firstly, you shouldn’t get in there. Then, you have to watch out for calms and you also have to do a lot of work out on deck».
Vincent Riou (PRB) : «I’d prefer to be in Jean Le Cam’s place. He did well there. I should have got in behind him, but last night I got caught out by a squall and I couldn’t do what I wanted. The spinnaker was hoisted early in the night, and in the end the squall didn’t pass over. I had to lower it , and the wind was blowing quite strongly. Then , once I’d got out of the squall, I found myself more or less becalmed for two hours!»
. Rankings after the first week of the race: Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle), Vincent Riou (PRB), Sébastien Josse (VMI).
. Mike Golding (Ecover) has given up his sixth position to Nick Moloney (Skandia)
. On his course to the east of the fleet, Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto) is back in 12 place on the leader board.
. Over the last 24 hours, Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) covered 320 miles (at an average of 13,4 knots) whereas Mike Golding only managed 217 miles (averaging 9 knots).