Record breaking crew take shelter off Port Elizabeth, SA to await a weather window to continue
The storm which passed over the tip of South Africa at the weekend fully lived up to expectations. To the immediate south of Port Elizabeth the average wind reached 55 knots with gusts approaching 80.
Fortunately the maxi-catamaran was able to reach Algoa Bay off Port Elizabeth on Saturday evening, less than an hour before the arrival of the cold front, so they were a little less exposed to these extreme conditions.
Dominic Vittet describes the living conditions and navigation from their shelter: “Since Saturday evening we’ve been going back and forth barepoled, remaining as close as we can to the coast. During the course of yesterday the onboard anemometer recorded a gust of 67 knots, but Port Elizabeth really was the right choice as we’re very well protected here. The swell put in an appearance yesterday evening at the bottom of the bay, but nothing dramatic. On the other hand, just one or two miles downwind of us, there are big seas and you can make out the crests of the breaking waves.”
This pause is not dissimilar to the five day wait the crew of Gitana 13 were forced to endure at Cape Horn last January during the Route de l’Or. However there is one very big difference: “We are sheltered and the boat isn’t suffering so the crew is managing to relax. It’s nothing like the atmosphere during the standby at Tierra del Fuego. In January, the days where we were stopped were also synonymous with total isolation, whilst here we’re really just a stone’s throw from the town and numerous oil tankers, cargo ships and commercial vessels are taking refuge like us. The situation is fairly unique!”
The crew of the maxi-catamaran will have to find the right weather window to head back onto the racetrack.
To follow the team, visit www.gitana-team.com .