By Scott Hamilton, Investment Advisor, Explorer
Under normal circumstances Rich would have crossed the Doldrums and then picked up the trade winds for a relatively uneventful sail to the finish. Conditions, however, have been anything but normal.
Instead our friend Rich has encountered almost unbelievably difficult wind condition ever since crossing the Equator on February 16th, almost 2 week ago. The problem, simply stated, is that the Atlantic has been dominated by high pressure systems, and the traditional trade winds haven't been blowing in the areas where Great American III happens to be. In the Northern Hemisphere high pressure systems rotate clockwise, thus creating both rough sea conditions and winds from the worst possible direction for Rich. If you go to the Vendee Globe website and click on the forecast winds section you can see this situation quite clearly.
Given two difficult choices 1) beat endlessly upwind (very hard on the boat and skipper) or 2) try to find better conditions, Rich's response has been to try to sail further north and a bit west in an effort to cross the "eye" of the latest high pressure system and catch favorable winds on the opposite side. The trouble is, every time he is just about there the high dissipates and then another comes slowly across the Atlantic creating the same difficult conditions. This epic journey now has Great American III roughly in the mid-Atlantic, half way between the USA and Europe.
Rich now looks like he is very close to being able to "turn the corner" and head more or less directly for the finish line, still about 1,700 nautical miles away. However a major storm is forecast for the whole Eastern Atlantic and Bay of Biscay roughly in the same time frame as his anticipated arrival.
Rich is certainly tired from 112 days at sea, the rough conditions and adverse winds. This is where his experience, depth of character, and confidence play a most important role. At some points in time and in life the most important ingredients in achieving your goals are confidence, bravery and tenacity. Rich is exhibiting all of these qualities as he continues to circumnavigate with world aboard Great American III.