As we crossed the South American convergence zone, the last two nights have been very intense, with lots of showers and convective activity, requiring everyone on board to work constantly on sail, stack and boat setup changes and adjustments.
During last night, the thunderstorms seemed to have reached their peak. Before sunset we saw already two big isolated cumulonimbus clouds in the distance, one well behind and the other well ahead. Early in the night the one ahead seemed to be lingering with some small cumulus on our windward side, which very quickly grew into a massive thunderstorms in matter of just over half an hour. Once the cloud cell started precipitating. It left us with no wind for a period, till the thunderstorm passed over MAPFRE.
With the torrential rain, we experienced very swirly and puffy wind gusts, and saw every possible wind direction. Lightning was quite bright and almost blinding, with occasional thunder. Our two competitors we had been sailing along for the last couple of days, VS11 and DFRT, a few miles from us, pulled away with wind while we were sitting in the light. A second thunderstorm followed, before we sailed in slightly more consistent wind.
After a hard night, with exhausting crew work and lack of sleep, all is good on board. We know we now have to play catch-up, and we are all taking on the challenge. Wind conditions now are forecast to be steadier, with smaller showers, if any, today.
Right now, we sail along in a moderate ESE trade wind, which is forecast to last till the approach of Recife while shifting SE. After that and some downwind sailing by the E coast of Brazil, we will be heading into the doldrums. The numerical models we receive on board have the doldrums quite benign at this stage. The NE trades are looking good and fresh in the forecast, and we all look forward to some fast sailing by then.