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Barcelona World Race: Right side up again

Last night around 9.50pm, after a little more than 68 days of racing, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam crossed (back) over the Equator.

Last night around 9.50pm, after a little more than 68 days of racing, Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam crossed (back) over the Equator. The two Cheminées Poujoulat skippers, still comfortably in the lead of the Barcelona World Race - sailing over 1,500 nautical miles ahead of their nearest rivals - are now back in the northern hemisphere after 56 days spent "upside down"; good news: the passing of the infamous doldrums ended up being quite smooth as this morning they are already hitting North/North-Eastern winds that should intensify throughout the day and stay behind them for a while.

Passing the Equator - the imaginary line traced around the Earth halfway between the two poles, marking the separation between the northern and southern hemispheres - is always highly symbolic for a sailor. "It marks an important step, a step that makes us truly happy. A round-the-world race like this one is for the most part concentrated in the southern hemisphere. Today more than any other day, we can feel ourselves getting closer to home", stated Bernard Stamm, who was called this morning via satellite phone. Another reason for the skipper to be pleased today is that the doldrums cooperated well with him and his fellow sailor last night.

Full speed in the doldrums

"As we approached the Equator, we could feel the weather heading north with us. We therefore stuck to our tradewinds for quite a long time, and they were pretty strong. But all at once, the bubble popped and the wind changed. We thus started sailing with unstable and low winds, that did not however dip below 6 knots. Basically, we weren't affected by any calms or storms. Obviously, it's better to experience that than to be stuck in a bubble", added the skipper, specifying that for several hours now, the northern flow had established itself clearly and should stabilise sometime in the afternoon. "We are off again. We are heading quite far north but have found a stable angle. Overall, we can't complain; the weather has been rather pleasant for our trip back up to the northern Atlantic, we were able to take the route we wanted and haven't had to deal with any technical issues. All in all, things are going well", declared Bernard, confessing that their 1,500-nautical mile lead on their rivals was reward enough for being stuck under a cloud.

Not a mile wasted

"Things are definitely easier to handle in these conditions, but Jean and I are doing our best to lose as few nautical miles as possible during transition phases, as there are still several sections up ahead that may slow us down", he highlighted. Indeed, the Cheminées Poujoulat team is not immune from having to deal with calm winds upon reaching the Canary Islands, or even coming to a complete stand-still in the Mediterranean. "In this section, there are many possible obstacles, especially as we are so ahead of schedule; our timing may be bad in terms of weather, contrary to our competitors. It is therefore out of the question for us to waste any nautical miles along the way. We'll take whatever we can", admitted Bernard Stamm, who will be living "slanted" for a while as they will be facing headwind for the next few days.

Close-haul for several days

"We will be sailing close-haul, very close-haul, but that was planned. There will be no manoeuvres, but we will need to stay extremely focused on our boat settings and sailing techniques. At this pace, going fast is never easy. 

More information about the Barcelona World Race 

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