Orange goes amber
In Brest on the north westernmost tip of France, the maxi-catamaran Orange is now ready to set off on her latest round the world passage chasing the Trophy Jules Verne - the record for sailing fastest non-stop around the world.
Her mast has been taken out, checked and was restepped last Wednesday and the boat has moved from Brest's Moulin Blanc marina to the commercial harbour. From this Monday they go 'code amber' (in Steve Fossett terminology) ready to leave whenever the weather is right. At present the forecast charts show favourable conditions for a departure next Thursday.
Meteorologist boat captain Gilles Chiorri commented "Two months ago we fixed ourselves a date, February 10th, to be ready for the off... We are proud of being able to say that we've stuck to it. We will be doing a working-up sortie this Friday afternoon to put the rigging under tension again. On Saturday, we will be sailing for real with all our sails and then we can say that as from Sunday the boat will be ready".
Orange skipper Bruno Peyron commented on the forthcoming voyage. "Whilst in 1993 [when Peyron became the first to sail around the world non-stop in the less than 80 days] it was a case of setting out into the unknown round the world, we now know a little more about where were treading and the technology has somewhat evolved with these maxi-catamarans. So our ambitions are a little different...".
The ambitions... "Of course we'll be doing everything possible to succeed, which is not as easy as it sounds! We'll also be trying to win the dual with Olivier de Kersauson and Geronimo, because it's going to be a very interesting clash between two totally different boats. And, of course, we'll be doing everything possible to bring the record time down".
How... "To achieve this, we've done a lot of work to improve the reliability of the boat and certain of its elements, and we have gathered together a team with great human qualities capable of understanding the objectives. It is made up of thirteen men, including myself, and accumulating four or five participations in the America's Cups, four or five Whitbreads, three Jules Vernes, a good twenty Figaros and six or seven Mini-Transats... In short, a superb team with very varied experiences!"
The duel with Geronimo... "It is more than ever likely... It's still possible that we'll be setting off together. Geronimo's mast should be delivered around 15th and the boat could sail three or four days later!"
The coming week... "There is a possible small weather window we're keeping a close eye on, and that's why, from the beginning of next week, we'll be on standby, ready to start. If it evolves correctly, we'll be obliged to take it, otherwise we'll start with Geronimo!"
Meanwhile Olivier de Kersauson is stuck waiting for the new mast for his maxi-trimaran Geronimo to arrive. This is due on next Thursday, 14 February, but Espace Composites who made the spar (a replacement for the old one which broke last year) say that he must spend at least three days setting it up and testing before he sets off round the world with it (!). Therefore Geromino's earliest departure will not be for at least another week.