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Orange covers 500 miles in 24 h away from the Portuguese coast

dimanche 3 mars 2002

A "transbiscay" to set the boat up, a succession of gybes to clear Cape Finistere, then steer 180°, due south and the whole coast of Portugal is unfolding on fast forward to Orange’s windward. After one and a half day’s racing, the thirteen oilies of Peyron’s men are already drying in the Iberian sunshine.

History, the Bay of Biscay high, since dawn, the maxi-catamaran "Orange has been playing with the power of a low centred over south-west Portugal. The wind is strong, 35, 40 knots, more in the gusts and the sea is pretty rough. On moving gently away towards Gibraltar, this zone of low pressure is offering Peyron’s men better and better wind angles. Speed is rising and the miles are totting up on the repeaters, 500 miles in 24 hours, almost 21 knots average since the start on Saturday morning ! But there’s no euphoria in Bruno Peyron’s voice : "All our attention is on driving the boat well" explained Orange’s skipper, "as expected, Cape Finistere was a bit rough, a nasty sea and 40 knots of wind... lots of gybing to gain some westing last night... but despite all that we’re trying not to drive the boat too hard and we’re keeping a close watch on gear wear..."

One reef in the main and breeze spinnaker, Orange is heading south-west to slide along the westerly border of the centre of the low. 22 knots, and 30 even down the waves... Cape Saint Vincent will be cleared this evening. Gilles Chiorri, the navigator on board, is already casting a longing look at Madeira and the Canaries. "We’re still a bit too far east for my taste," he admitted, " but our weather files show no breaks in the line of the NW trade winds that we’re aiming for to the west of the Canaries." 7 days, 4 hours and 11 minutes from Ushant to the Equator, Peter Blake’s record Record #sailingrecord set on Enza in 1994 is more than ever in the minds of the mariners on Orange. Now well in tune to the rhythm of ocean life, the men are settling in to their respective watches. And they’re ready to snap to duty at a moment’s notice : when a wave tore away the staysail sack lashed to the trampoline net, the four men on standby immediately sprung into action to lend a hand to save the precious sail.

The first sunrise of the race this morning was sumptuous much to the joy of Peyron ; joy barely troubled by the din of Orange launched at full speed against the force of the ocean.

Quote unquote... :

- Bruno Peyron : "Lots of gybing and not much direct route last night. We coped well with a first difficult night when we had to find the right compromise between choice of sails and angle of wind. The sunrise was magic. Lots of seabirds, not many marine Marine Marine nationale mammals, which we don’t regret, because I don’t like having them in front of our bows..."

- Gilles Chiorri (navigator) : "The crew is well in phase with the boat, no better proof than the appetite with which each one is devouring his meals. Everyone slept well. The boat is comfortable and the speed with which she cleared the Bay of Biscay makes the "Figarists" on board (Yann Elies, Sebastien Josse and myself) really marvel..."

Denis van den Brink / Mer&Media / Orange

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