Down in the doldrums…
26 September 2023
Teams are now starting to hit the doldrums (official name is the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone or ITCZ) – a low pressure trough where there is minimal wind due to the convergence of the northeast and southeast trade winds but with intermittent squally conditions, which can bring tremendous and torrential rainfall.
Image: Dark clouds gather over Race Crew on the 2019-20 race
This area can cause days of frustrating sailing as boats get stuck in wind holes with little to no movement.
With the uncertainty caused by the fleet potentially getting stuck for days on end, the Clipper Race Office allow yachts to motor or motor-sail for a set period of time within the Doldrums Corridor. The entire Doldrums Corridor stretches for 10° of latitude from north to south (13°N to 03°N) at approx. 600nm long, and is 8° of longitude wide bounded to the east and west (29°W to 21°W) at approx. 480nm wide. The details for the Doldrums Corridor are outlined in the Course Instructions for Race 2. Within this corridor, teams can elect to use their engine and motor-sail for six of those degrees of latitude (approx. 360nm) to escape the no wind area.
Image: In the doldrums on the 2019-20 race
An opportunity for tactical decision making, teams can decide at which point in the corridor to start motoring, but from that point they must continue with motor only for 60 hours. If they cover 6° before the 60 hours of motoring is over, they must wait before proceeding until the total time has elapsed. After that, it’s back to sailing and racing again.
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