Racing into the South Atlantic, solo sailors scan weather charts for best wind conditions; Hatfield fixing generator

The round-the-world competitors are now strung out in the middle of the Atlantic with more than one-thousand nautical miles separating the front of the pack from the rear.  

Most of the leaders made a relatively quick transit through the Doldrums and the Equator and are now bearing South, off the coast of Brazil and parallel to the island of St. Helena, which is a long way to the East.

The tenacious Loick Peyron aboard Gitanta Eighty continues to lead, followed by Sebastien Josse on BT.

St. Helena is important to the sailors because it gives it's name to a high-pressure system that determines the winds in the Southern Atlantic, and all of the skippers are taking a close look at their charts to try to anticipate wind speeds and direction.

The island has few inhabitants and is very isolated. It became famous as a remote prison. Lying thousands of nautical miles from the nearest land mass, it was the perfect place for the British to banish Napoleon. He remained in exile there under guard until his death in 1821. St. Helena was also the place where, at the end of the 19th Century, thousands of Boer prisoners were held during the war of the same name.

While the leaders of the Vendée Globe are sailing faster as they head South, near the back of the pack Canadian Derek Hatfield, aboard Algimouss Spirit of Canada, has been wrestling with a malfunctioning electrical charging system and has lost a little distance as he attempts to make repairs. He's now entering the Doldrums area in the sticky heat close to the Equator. He says in a recent message that he's hoping for a calm day so he can go out on the back of the boat and try to fix the wind generator.

Here's his dispatch from earlier Monday:

"Yesterday was practice day for the doldrums. A weak low pressure system seems to be crossing in front of me and the result is that for 24 hours now I have had very light winds. A very frustrating day indeed as I never sleep during the slow times as I don't want to miss any opportunities to take advantage of the wind. I must say I'm feeling a bit unlucky with the weather systems that I have encountered so far in the race. I must get my head into the weather files a bit more than I have been but this is a double edge sword; more computer time, more energy consumed. Oh well, I think I'm whining a a bit too much here, I just need to get on with it. My turn with the good luck with the weather will come."

As with all the competitors, we wish Derek good luck and safe sailing.

1 Photograph of Foncia is courtesy Jacques Vapillon/DPPI/Vendée Globe.  Used by permission, courtesy www.Vendé
2. To learn about St. Helena, see St. Helena, South Atlantic Ocean
3. If you're interested in the winds and the effect of the island on the racers, read St. Helena and Her Demons at the race website.

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