26 January 2023, Leg 2 onboard Holcim - PRB Team. Susann Beucke throws the new sheet outboard of the foil. © Georgia Schofield | polaRYSE
Cat and mouse game towards the doldrums
Lighter conditions doesn't mean easier racing as the IMOCA fleet finds itself constantly shifting gears, making sail changes and gybing as the teams zig-zag southwest towards the equator and the doldrums.
Every change in the breeze brings the potential for a sail change. Each move by the opposition brings a decision on whether to match or continue. It's exhausting, but can bring some rewards, as it has for Guyot environnement - Team Europe who are now back with the rest of the fleet.
"We've clawed back and made contact with the fleet again, which is super," said skipper Robert Stanjek. "We're in a nice position and we can finally compare ourself to another boat live, not just by the numbers."
The Guyot boat and Team Malizia have been matching gybes with each outher since about 20:00 UTC on Thursday night.
Slightly further ahead, the leading trio of Biotherm, 11th Hour Racing Team and Team Holcim-PRB are doing the same.
"As the trade winds build we want to start getting west but we need to make sure we don't go too early," said 11th Hour Racing Team's Simon Fisher, and this is what we see playing out on the tracker. Every move to the west, balanced by another gybe south.
There's a lot at stake here, with a potential leg winning advantage to be found with a quick doldrums crossing and being first into the trade winds south of the equator.
This will play out over the course of the weekend, with doldrums and equator crossing likely on Sunday.
Leg Two Rankings at 1100 UTC - 27 January 2023
1. Biotherm, distance to finish, 4501.8 miles
2. 11th Hour Racing Team, distance to leader, 11.1 miles
3. Team Holcim-PRB, distance to leader, 24.5 miles
4. Guyot environnement - Team Europe, distance to leader, 29.9 miles
5. Team Malizia, distance to leader, 44.5 miles