On the weekend of birthdays, GUYOT environnement – Team Europe must try to find their way through the transition zones of weather systems on the fourth leg of The Ocean Race. In the North Atlantic, only small opportunities remain to celebrate the anniversaries of navigator Sébastien Simon (33 years) and co-skipper Robert Stanjek (42 years). Rather, constant sail changes are necessary, because after the trade winds, a broad high-pressure ridge lurks, stretching from the Caribbean to Europe. Although the fleet is making good progress on the way to Newport/USA, the weather models rarely match reality, and at the back of the pack, the European crew with skipper Benjamin Dutreux, Stanjek, Simon and Annie Lush and onboard reporter Gauthier Lebec have to be careful that the high pressure doesn’t bite them in the neck and completely slow down the chase to the northwest.
A garland in the cockpit, a self-made crown, sweets with a candle, plus many congratulations and a few serenades via smartphone – that’s how Sébastien Simon was greeted in his day watch on Saturday. “It’s a pleasure to see who all remembered my birthday. It’s a special birthday to celebrate here at sea and not onshore with my family and friends. The gifts are a motivation for the efforts. I am very happy,” said Sébastien Simon before getting back to work.
The changeable conditions required many sail changes. The crew has to focus less on the present and more on the future. Because the sailing wardrobe has to be adapted to the expected winds. And it is not an easy look ahead: because the transitions into new weather systems turned out to be a surprise package for all crews. Winds from the complete opposite direction than forecast, big clouds and thunderstorms. The choice of headsails is therefore intensively discussed on the black yacht of GUYOT environnement – Team Europe. The coming days with the approach to Newport will not be any easier either. For the forecasts are very unstable with pronounced storms and high pressure zones.
What is certain is that the fleet will hardly be able to choose the path westwards towards the American coast due to the high pressure forming between the 30th and 35th latitudes, but will sail northwards in an arc. However, the routings still predict an arrival in Newport on 10 or 11 May.
For Robert Stanjek, his little birthday party is coming up in the next few hours. Although 7 May has already dawned on board the yacht, the small ceremony will only be celebrated during the day watch.