Sea, Sail & Surf

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Jules Verne Trophy

Orange on the way to the roring forties

samedi 16 mars 2002

Between Africa and South America, the masses of air circulate at high speed over an empty ocean devoid of any land obstacles. Very quick ! Too quick ! Even for a maxi-catamaran of the latest generation. The high arrived at a gallop and seized the "Giant" Orange. On board they’re taking it as best they can and putting up with the adversity, a dying wind and chaotic sea, and even worse, right on the nose. But deliverance is near. The men know it, but it’s not stopping them cursing and swearing, but the flight of the first petrels announces the furious winds and long cavalcades of the Southern Ocean.

How powerful it is, this anticyclone ! For a long time last night Bruno Peyron and his men thought they were winning the fight against it. And then on an ESE heading, they thought they had kept up enough speed to pass under its centre, even if it meant beating. But no, the wind kept backing. It continued to slacken throughout the day, ending up blowing right on the nose of the maxi-catamaran. Obstinate, Peyron’s men resisted. The boat slammed and shook. Beating isn’t her favourite point of sailing and in a 25 knot gust, she let it be known ; during a rather "hot" manoeuvre, one of the mainsail battens exploded, putting the crew into a well-oiled routine that they perfectly master now : down with the sail, repair, up with it again and off... But the seaway is at loggerheads with the wind and seriously shaking the boat. They’ve just got to live with it. "We’re heading east again" explained Bruno Peyron, "we’re going to let the centre of the high go by and wait for the rotation to the SW, then NW, before diving due south in a strong wind, 30 knots probably tomorrow morning..." "The Forties, here we come !" The 40° of latitude South will be crossed in a few hours. Orange will be rushing into a world void of any landmarks, and the impatience tainted with apprehension is showing in each sailor with anxiety and curiosity. But there is one unanimous sentiment, and that is the burning desire for speed ! Let’s finish with this imperfect route and the pitfalls of the Atlantic. Let Orange find those powerful winds she is so crazy about. The Tristan da Cunha islands are right on the maxi’s route, the final terrestrial vision for a long time for Peyron and his men. The next landfalls will be called "Prince Edward, Crozet and Kerguelen..."

Quote / unquote...

Gilles Chiorri : "We’re heading for a funny group of islands, Tristan da Cunha, named after the Portuguese navigator who discovered them in 1713. Abandoned in 1961 after the eruption of a volcano, it now serves as a military and meteorological station for the British. Apparently it is the paradise of giant prawns ! One of the rocks bares the very engaging name of..."Inaccessible".

Yves le Blévec : "Orange is impressive. Last November it took me 30 days on my Mini 6.50 to reach the Equator, compared to a little over 7 days for Orange. The boat is demanding and compels us to a lot of maintenance, but in the end we soon forget about her size. She remains in effect a human sized boat. And in addition, I’m really enjoying sailing in such great company. The Southern Ocean is exercising on those, like me, who have no knowledge of it yet, a mixture of curiosity and apprehension. I know that the next three weeks are going to be extraordinary..."

Bruno Peyron : "We’re going to have to suffer the passage of the anticyclone today. As soon as the wind and the sea offer us a good angle of attack, we will be descending further south. It’s the price to pay. The temperatures of the water and air have cooled off. We’re about to start another rhythm of life, with the speed, the cold and the discomfort of a boat that will be surfing sometimes rather brutally on the ocean !"

Denis van den Brink / Mer & Media / Orange

Map : Geronimo vs Orange

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image 300 x 158Photo : JP Epron / Maxi Catamaran Orange

Jules Verne Trophy : The maxi-catamaran Orange is "on a diet"

Jules Verne Trophy : Orange back to her 500 nm / day rythm

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