Faster and faster

610 mile day for Orange as she dashs towards Cape Horn

Tuesday April 9th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 38 - 0800 GMT, 9 April 2002

Orange position: 54deg 18S 131deg 48W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 558.27nm (23.27knots average)

Compared to day 36 of Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 53deg 21S 169deg 15W

Down the track: currently Orange is 1073 nm ahead
(Distance between Orange and Sport Elec Day 38 positions - 1,317 nm)

For the first time in their bid to break the non-stop round the world record Orange is now fully launched and turning in the speeds expected of a catamaran of her size. At the 0800GMT position sched this morning they had covered almost 560 miles in the last 24 hours. During today's radio interview with the boat she was travelling at 37.8 knots, so it looks likely they will surpass this again tomorrow.

This part of the Southern Ocean seems to be good for setting impressively large daily runs. The wind is strong and the sea state, although large, tends to be more regular. In addition the boat is marginally lighter due to a lot of the provisions being consumed and the crew are accustomed to racing the big cat amid the ever present dangers of the Southern Ocean. It was as he was travelling through this area on The Race that Grant Dalton set a new 24 hour world record run of 642.4 miles (subsequently broken by PlayStation) on Orange's sistership Club Med (now Maiden II).

"We've been saying it ever since we arrived in the Southern Ocean; as soon as all the conditions were right, angle and force of wind and sea state, then Orange would accelerate, without excess and without breaching our watchword: spare the men and the gear," commented skipper Bruno Peyron, showing that caution is still the order of the day.

"The Indian Ocean wasn't favourable to us, with having to beat against strong winds and the Pacific seems to be opening up better opportunities for us," explained the skipper. "The high has smoothed the sea, and the swell is favourable. It's now that we must unleash the horses, because we can combine being cautious with the gear and high speeds."

"The boat is very fast" added Orange's resident meteorologist Gilles Chiorri. "In untidy seas, she slams very hard and the gear suffers. So you have to rein her in to avoid smashing everything." On port tack in the corridor of wind, Orange is striding along like a wing three-quarter.

Conditions on board are inhospitable, but the crew are now used to them. "It's cold, so ski goggles, neoprene suits, gloves developed for offshore oil platform workers in the North Sea are the order of the day" described Peyron. "But we've adapted ourselves to this world. We don't feel so foreign now."

While they are making good progress at present - after today's run they are now more than 1,000 miles further down the track than Sport Elec were in 1997 - there still looks to be potential problems ahead with an area of high pressure parked just to the north of their direction route to Cape Horn.

"We're going fast, slotted onto the great circle route," explained Chiorri. "The weather is complex, but we have a few alternatives. No compromises today. The sea is smooth, the wind angle ideal - it's now up to the helmsmen and trimmers to pile on the speed. It's pitch-black night. We're steering by the compass and the wind angle. We're clipped on with our harnesses and are concentrating on the trim, while observing the sea temperature and watching the horizon."

Below: Jacques Cousteau or Jacques Villeneuve? Head protection is essential with constant spray flying are you at 40 knots.

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