Once more into the South
Day 36 - 0800 GMT, 7 April 2002
Orange position: 51deg 42S 163deg 58W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 316.22nm (13.18knots average)
Compared to day 36 of Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 48deg 44S 178deg 25E
Down the track: currently Orange is 564 nm ahead
(Distance between the boats today - 715 nm)
The high pressure ridge that Orange has encountered in the last 24 hours has reduced the incredible pace the team has enjoyed over the last few days. This morning the giant catamaran's daily average was substantially down on the 500 mile/days she was consistently logging at the end of last week. Yet she is still around 1.5 days sailing ahead of Sport Elec's 1997 record.
The ridge potentially could have had a much more detrimental effect on Orange's speed but a detour to the north east spared them the worst. "Only a little windward work in the night" commented Peyron today. Passing the ridge, the wind shifted to the north as forecast and Orange bore away, accelerating on a SSE heading, under full sail.
For the crew it has been a strenuous period of changing gear up to full main and gennaker and down again. "After a few surfs at 32 knots we're maintaining a steady speed of between 22 and 24 knots along the route" described Peyron of their present state. "The boat is now lightened by about a ton and a half of food and fuel consumed. She is more manoeuvrable and easier to position on the waves."
On board the crew are finding the weather is damp and the warm front brought along its batch of clouds and rain.
Now Orange is once again heading back down towards the deep south. However the passage towards Cape Horn (which Peyron thinks they will round in one week's time) will not be easy. The long range forecasts indicate that Orange will be able to rid in on the north eastern corner of a depression until about Wednesday when she will have to thread her way through a complex arrangement of high pressure systems, that are uncharacteristically far south. This may cause them to dip further south, although by doing this they risk encountering icebergs.
"The sea state has been really pleasant since we entered the Pacific," commented Peyron. "The swell is nice and regular, with crests of about 3 metres. We picked up some wind again last night and the acceleration was brutal. Even though it's very late in the year, temperatures are still quite mild. We're keeping an eye on the temperature of the sea and being very vigilant about ice. We know the risky zones, and we won't be venturing into any minefields."
See page two for Nick Moloney's account from on board...