The USA lies to the north and Brazil is now in the wake of the four teams racing towards Newport, Rhode Island as the fleet has rounded the northeastern corner of Brazil.
The next transition will be to cross what appears on the forecast to be a fairly benighn doldrums – the teams are far enough to the west that the impact shouldn’t be too strong or long lasting.
As of 1300 UTC on Monday, the leading teams are starting to approach the unsettled weather that is characteristic of the doldrums. The sailors can expect rain squalls, high temperatures and humidity and thunderstorms. This should last for about 36 hours, before the teams break through and into the north Atlantic trade winds.
Team Malizia and 11th Hour Racing Team have been swapping the lead back and forth on the tracker for the past 24 hours, with the German team slightly further north, and the Americans just to the west. In reality, there is little to choose between the two positions. The pair will cross the equator later on Monday evening UTC and the effects of the doldrums will then become more pronounced.
It’s been a fast day for the fleet, with 24 hour runs approaching the 500 nautical mile barrier.
“We have flat water, we’re reaching at about 110 degrees to the wind, in about 20-23 knots of windspeed and averaging about 23 to 25 knots of boatspeed. It’s fun,” said Alan Roberts on third-placed Biotherm.
That will change tonight (UTC), but when the fleet emerges into the north Atlantic trades, the high speed reaching will resume.
GUYOT envrionnement – Team Europe will be hoping for more unsettled conditions ahead as they look to make up lost miles after they needed to slow to make repairs to a foil control line on Sunday. The procedure saw the team slide from second place, and challenging for the lead, to where they sit today – nearly 200 miles back.
The ETA for the finish of leg 4 in Newport remains May 10 and should firm up later this week with the fleet in more stable conditions.
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