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News Item
Raphaela Le Gouvello passes half-way stage of Trans-Pacific Crossing!!
Posted On:  07/10/2003

After over 41 days at sea, French woman Raphaela Le Gouvello has just recently passed the half-way stage of her single-handed Trans-Pacific Crossing on a windsurfer. Using a specially constructed board to allow full autonomy, and Neil Pryde Raf Jet sails & rig components, Raphaela has already covered 2230 miles of her journey (as of 15 September 03). 2185 miles remain until Raphaela finally arrives at her ultimate destination of Tahiti.

Raphaela's voyage is following the same route as the mythical journey of Thor Hejerdahl & the famous Kon Tiki. After her departure from Lima, Peru on 5 August 2003, Raphaela's route takes her 4,300 nautical miles (8000 km) across the Pacific Ocean to Tahiti. There she will meet up with her team in the Tuamotu Islands, before making the 10 days of difficult navigation through the Pacific atolls & arriving in Papeete approximately 2,5 months later.

Raphaela's windsurfer is a specially designed 7.8 m sailboard that is fully autonomous. This board allows Raphaela to make her crossing without any assistance from another sail boat. Furthermore, it is equipped with a specially designed airbag system, that automatically inflates & rights the sailboard in the event of capsize. For the sail & rig components, Raphaela is using 4 specially reinforced Neil Pryde Raf Jet sails (sized from 4.2 to 7.4m), together with X5 Carbon masts & X5 Booms. Raphaela is also equipped with Neil Pryde wetsuits, harnesses & accessories.

After already crossing the cold & rough northward Humboldt currents off the coast of Peru, Raphaela is now following the warmer Westward currents which will carry her on to her final destination. The improved weather associated with these currents has allowed her to restore a daily rhythm & recuperate her strength. Raphaela had encountered strong winds & waves at the start of her voyage which both increased the already physical task of windsurfing her board each day, and also deprived her of sleep for over a month.

Odyssée du Vent: "One must not forget what it is like to navigate with 550 kg under one‚s feet, this signifies that whenever there is a lift, the surfboard reacts with delay due to its inertia. During this lapse of time, the body takes everything in ˆ this is a very tough physically- it is necessary to resist and take down the harness as fast as possible to avoid being thrown off the board∑ Raphaela: "In addition to this, I don‚t have any windscreens on my glasses, so when it rains I don‚t see anything any more!"

Raphaela's progress has also been improved recently after she managed to deal with the build up of "Goose" Barnacles on the bottom of her board. These had proliferated in the 23°C waters of the Pacific, and slowed the forward speed of her board causing a delay in her progress. To solve this problem, Raphaela dived under the board and scraped the shellfish off by hand. Raphaela: "I held myself on the survival cord that is placed along the board."

Spirits are high as she reflects back on her last 40 days at sea & looks forwards to the remainder of the voyage: "These last 40 days at sea were for me, rich in knowledge and full with many good moments. The separation from the world has not been too difficult as the rhythm imposed by regular contacts with my team have allowed me to keep a certain measure of time... I am positive in thinking of the future... it help's me a lot."

Currently Raphaela's course has been pushed Northward as she steers to avoid a large depression that is developing in the South. Neil Pryde wishes Raphaela all the best in the second half of her journey towards Tahiti!

At 1630 on Monday 15 September, the precise coordinates of Raphaela's voyage were as follows:

- Position: 8°59 South / 113°07 West.
- Distance covered in the last 24 hours: 67 miles
- Total Distance covered since Lima: 2230 miles
- Total Distance to cover until the Tuamotu Islands: 1730 miles
- Total Distance to cover until Papeete: 2185 miles

For full details & regular updates on Raphaela's progress, please check the website: www.raphaela-legouvello.com.

All information & pictures are courtesy of Odyssée du vent 2003 - Raphaëla le Gouvello.
web design © Christopher Gibson