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Orange is zigzagging down the Atlantic

lundi 4 mars 2002

475 miles on the clock since yesterday midday at 19.82 knots : needless to say the maxi-catamaran Orange is continuing to record Record #sailingrecord a more than honourable average especially as the weather conditions are far from optimum. All’s well aboard, but it’s man˜uvre after man˜uvre, and the boat was positioned at 1400 (GMT) on the same latitude as Casablanca (Morocco) or 60 miles north-east of Madeira. The menu for today and tomorrow is complex : make progress to the south and don’t wander out of the narrow corridor of wind even if the average speed must fall a little.

"You must have noticed it yourself", said Bruno Peyron during today’s radio bulletin, "but our average speed has suffered a little and we have just got ourselves free of three hours of calm. We’re currently sailing in a very narrow corridor of wind and we’re passing one line of squalls after another. The wind goes from 6/7 knots to 35 knots with the sky that goes with it ?" Tough wind and sailing conditions because the maxi-catamaran Orange is having to bring out her entire set of sails to cope with the diversity and complexity of the winds encountered. "I counted 23 sail changes in the last 24 hours" declared Bruno. "We’re doing about 27 to 32 knots at the moment ? No need to add that apart from the complicated weather situation, it is very damp !"

So what do we see on the weather charts ? Two centres of low pressure channelling the progress of the maxi-catamaran. To the left there is one over the southern Azores and on the right another over southern Portugal preventing the high from setting in properly. So the objective is to avoid the zones of calms on the edges of both systems and put in gybe after gybe to remain in the narrow corridor of wind. A corridor of wind that should carry them as far as the trades but which they shouldn’t pick up until after the Canaries about 260 miles away at midday today.

"We haven’t really been questioning it..."

While the weather system is testing the grey matter, the muscles have also been put to the test since the start. "The watch system is working well and eight is not too many, or nine with myself, on deck for sail changes" declared Bruno. "We wanted to move the reacher a little while ago, there must have been about 150 kilos of water in it. With five of us it wouldn’t budge, with six neither, it needed seven to shift it ! But everybody is now hanging right in there and we haven’t really been questioning it since the start. Each one is coping with sleep in their own manner leaving all the landlubber worries behind him. For the moment I’m tending to sleep in a ball in the bottom of the boat, ready to lend a hand in case..."

Damp conditions, non-stop sail changes, eyes glued on the weather.. no time for daydreaming and gybe at the right moment to stay with this whimsical wind. The Equator is 2000 miles away to the south today. Leave Madeira to port, pass the Canaries and pick up the saving NE trades before tackling the Doldrums. There’s no doubt ; you have to merit the Jules Verne Trophy.

Quote / unquote...

Eric Mast (Météo Consult) : "There was a slight doubt about today. The objective is not to stick one’s head in the lion’s mouth, that’s to say get parked in the calms. So they’re going to have to keep gybing their way to the Canaries. It’s true that it doesn’t exactly favour average speeds but they must gain southing to get out of this snare and go looking for the trades !"

- Bruno Peyron : "The boat is super clean. We have a minister of the interior in the person of Vladimir (Dzalba Lyndis) and I can tell you he runs it with a rod of iron. I’m at the chart table and I can see 15 metres down the boat and there isn’t a thing out of place. It’s spick and span !"

Information Mer&Media / Orange

Map : Geronimo vs Orange

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