Yesterday Dominique crossed the Equator and passed from autumn into spring. In the southern hemisphere the temperature is rising and the days are getting longer. “It is very nice indeed,” declared an appreciative Dominique.
He celebrated with a double espresso, leaving the champagne for another day. “Three or four hundred years ago, it would have been a true feat to cross the Equator, and while it is still a moment to celebrate in any sailor’s life, today we go so fast it is not the challenge that it used to be.”
The fleet is currently sailing due south, parallel to Brazil and 90 degrees off the course to the next navigational point, the “South Atlantic Gate”, which is situated south west of Cape Town. The most direct route is not always the fastest and the Vendée Globe website (http://www.vendeeglobe.org/fr/classements.html) is showing some very low speeds at the time of writing.
“We need to get around the St Helena High to hook into the strong westerlies and be able to steer eastwards towards the southern tip of South Africa,” explained Dominique.
Weather specialists have said that the St Helena High is currently lying at 35?S, higher than is usual for this time of the year. This coupled with the fact that it is only generating moderate 15-knot trade winds means there is a way to go before the fleet reaches the Roaring Forties.
For the next week at least, the competitors can expect very unstable conditions and the skippers are likely to stick together, not wanting to take any risks.