Ice and record speed

Scary times for the crew of Orange

Wednesday April 10th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 39 - 0800 GMT, 10 April 2002

Orange position: 56deg 40S 114deg 24W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 602.98nm (25.12knots average)

Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 57deg 50S 156deg 05W

Down the track: currently Orange is 1166 nm ahead of the record

It has been another lively day on board Orange. Yet again they have broken their daily record for this voyage with a massive run of 603 nm and they are still able to lay Cape Horn on their present course. The pace is exhilarating on the big cat whose speed is constantly able to sit in the 25-30 knot region in the relatively tranquil conditions.

The high pressure system ahead of them is still present, bringing with it the prospect of yet more headwinds before they reach the Horn and this is preying on the mind of Orange's skipper Bruno Peyron. "We're putting on all the power to pass below it", he explained. "The swell is well oriented for 1 to 1.5 metre crests... so we're unleashing the horses on a WSW heading? We won't start to climb up again until Friday."

Yesterday crewman Philippe Peche had a fright when an iceberg appeared out of the mist (see below) on the bow roughly 3 miles ahead. At the time Orange was under single reefed main and staysail.

"Should we luff up or bear away ?" asked Peche. A good question and the same one which vexed the Volvo Ocean Race crews a few weeks ago when they passed through these waters - left hand down a bit and the boat would find herself pointing directly into the wind with too much sail on. Right hand down a bit and they could find themselves crossing some growler strewn water at tremendous pace.

So to spare the rig Péché bore away without gybing and positioned two lookouts stationed on the hulls while giving the berg a wide berth. At more than 30 knots the iceberg was quiclky behind them. By a strange quirk of fate the radar decided to trip out just at this moment.

This morning Orange was still 1,542 miles from the Horn and at her present break neck pace that should mean she makes the rounding on Saturday. But this will depend upon how successfully they avoid the light headwinds associated with the high pressure systems ahead.

That'll be an iceberg then...

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