Doldrums. Also known as Pot au Noir, intertropical convergence zone or more simply equatorial calms. This is that point on our planet, located just above the equator, where the northern hemisphere trade winds “bang” with the southern hemisphere trade winds, which blow from the northeast and southeast, respectively. Right now the head of the Vendée Globe has entered the dolldrums and expect to see in the coming hours, but it is already happening, big recoveries in the rankings alternating with big losses.
In the doldrums, in fact, a zone is created with wind that varies in direction and intensity, and it is easy to create even severe thunderstorms, with sudden gusts of wind alternating with total calm. In short, a big jackpot for those who have to sail through them. The situation right now for the Vendée Globe skippers seems less bad than expected. The doldrums are small, and a rapid rotation from the northeast trade wind to the southeast trade wind is looming. Obviously a few stops have to be taken into account, in a situation where those leading the race are always at a disadvantage compared to those following. Thomson remains in the lead even though his lead has quickly dropped well below 100 miles over second, which is Thomas Ruyant on Linkedout. Ruyant and Dalin, who are exactly on the stern of Hugo Boss, will be able to assess the leader’s speeds to decide how much to differentiate their trajectory by trying to find the right gap to the new Trade Wind. These are trajectories that could differ by as little as a mile or so, yet they may generate important differences between those who pass this area faster and those who will pay a higher price.
Thomson has physiologically slowed down, but that will be the case for everyone. For those chasing, however, it is a concrete opportunity to recover precious miles. The entry into the southeast trade wind is in fact the prelude to the descent to the Big South that will pass by the docking of one of the depressions moving in the South Atlantic. Whoever succeeds first will bring home hundreds of miles of advantage. for this reason from now to the next few days for those chasing Thomson it will be crucial to push 110% and attack him, to be on his tail, or even ahead of him, when the time comes again to make risky choices, something the Boss does particularly well. And speaking of chasers: Thomas Ruyant, before slowing down, clocked 508 miles in 24 hours at over 21 knots average speed. An important show of strength, nominating him as the “anti-Thomson.” His boat, Linkedout, also brings with it a bit of Italy: it was built by Persico Marine of Nembro, Bergamo.
Speaking, again, of pursuers. The good news for the race is the restart of Charal and Jérémie Beyou from Les Sables after the pit stop to repair the breakdowns suffered at the depression passage to Finisterre. Beyou is still in the rankings, having managed to restart before the 10-day regulation period to make the technical stopover in Les Sables. His delay amounts to over 2,500 miles; his dream of winning the Vendée Globe seems hopelessly compromised. For him, however, there is a chance to carry on an important sporting performance, recovering positions on the fleet, which is feasible, and perhaps aiming to set a record, even unofficially, for the race since his time starts from today.
Giancarlo Pedote is in the middle of the trade winds, just south of Cape Verde. Good averages for Prysmian climbed well above 400 miles in 24 hours. The Italian skipper’s delay, currently in 15th position, is still around 500 miles but is bound, momentarily to fall. For him, there will be a chance to observe the passes in the dolldrums of the boats ahead to choose the right trajectory and try to take advantage of it. The race is long, Pedote seems to have stopped the hemorrhaging of miles in the first part, everything is still on the line to carry on his adventure and chase a result in line with his abilities, remaining however the final goal, even before the ranking, his main objective.
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