In the Doldrums with the Fishes

After eleven days of racing and 3,000 miles of ocean in the Transat Jacques Vabre, Class 40 "IMERYS CLEAN ENERGY" is still engaged in intense competition with yachts "AINA" and "V&B". The three lead boats have now also been caught by two more pursuers, "TEAMWORK40" and "NORMANDY REGION SJE".  The race is wide open and anything could happen...
Skipper Phil Sharp comments: “Our race through the tropics this week couldn't have been more of a contrast to our windy, wet, and fast sail down the North Atlantic. Just a few days ago we were in in the sort of conditions you dream about for an ocean escape: 15 knots, downwind, spinnaker up, t-shirt sailing, but sadly this is no longer the case. Since entering the dreaded Doldrums we have been in horrendously fickle wind. Trickling further south, we’ve had average speeds of around 2 knots - as Pablo said yesterday: It’s like we have been cast adrift into the middle of the ocean…
“Yesterday was the hardest day of the race so far. We averaged 1.5 knots over 3 hours, whilst boats to the east were sailing between 4 and 7.5 knots. We were then hit by a large squall with 35 knots of wind! The boat fairly took off and we covered our previous 3 hour distance in just 20 minutes! Then the centre of a large squall passed right over us, with strong flashes of blinding lightening and rain so hard it was like someone pouring constant buckets of water over you. We were flying for a while but an hour later, we were back to 1.5 knots…”
The duo are well adjusted to a natural routine that feels “more like home every day”, says Phil. The yacht has encountered huge shoals of the famous flying fish which appear to be attracted to light. Phil tells us that Pablo advised him against wearing a head-torch, his co-skipper having once been smacked in the face at night. "I found this somewhat hard to believe until I became the next victim…"
Fish seem to be a theme: “Yesterday we had an unforgettable experience with a visit from two stunningly colourful Dorados, perhaps using the boat to get some much needed shade… With the beauty of their purple fins and bright yellow tails it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to be out here, even if we are madly trying to get to that finish line first!”, says Phil.
As the fleet slowly head south towards the equator, the impact of the deadly doldrums becomes ever clearer,  Their ETA in Salvador is now not until next Friday...
 
BUT WHEN WILL THEY CROSS THE EQUATOR?  Come closest to calculating the date and time that they cross the equator and you will win a bottle of The Classic Laddie.

Race tracker https://tracking.transatjacquesvabre.org/2017/phil-sharp-racing/
 
Watch David Attenborough, Dorados and Flying Fish.  Your winning combination.

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