Record-breaking maxi-trimaran to arrive in London this morning after 6 weeks at sea

After 41 days at sea, the maxi-catamaran Gitana 13 is tackling the very last section of its voyage. Setting out from Hong Kong on 14 August 2008 in a bid to set a new reference time on the Tea Route, Lionel Lemonchois and his nine crew are crossing the English Channel and are now just hours from finishing.

They have been facing rather unfavourable conditions. The steady NE’ly winds are only rarely enabling Gitana 13 to exceed 15 knots. In the lee of the English coast since Tuesday evening – in order to protect themselves from the lumpy seas and benefit from a small coastal breeze – the maxi-catamaran is looking forward to finishing this morning.

Sylvain Mondon commented on their final strategy: “Staying close to the shore has enabled Gitana 13 to perform a long stretch on port tack from Eddystone Lighthouse (off Plymouth Sound). This fairly favourable tack took them as far as the approach to the Pas-de-Calais strait, where the conditions gave way to an upwind beat as far as Dover. The final hours in the North Sea and along the River Thames may will be carried out in downwind conditions, which will be less testing on the crew.”

This morning Lionel Lemonchois and his men will make their entrance into the River Thames, thus completing their ‘circumnavigation’ of the globe, which began last January. The finish lies at the foot of Tower Bridge.