Putting on the pace

Orange is now making fast progress south and is closing on the Equator

Thursday March 7th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Orange is now back up to Mach One speeds and yesterday lunchtime had covered more than 500 miles in the previous 24 hours. Only a few years ago this would have been record-breaking pace, but today is just considered a 'reasonably good day'.

Orange picked up a slight shift to the east as she sailed down through the Trades and this has enabled her to not only gain speed but also finally gain some westing. Skipper Bruno Peyron and his 12 strong crew are now on a direct heading for the Cape Verde islands some 200 miles away which they must leave to port in the afternoon. The next objective is the Doldrums, which the maxi-catamaran Orange ought to tackle in less than two days, but obviously they are already getting prepared on board...

"Yes, we've had this little shift in the Trades to the east enabling us to luff up a bit but also to put more westing in," declared Gilles Chiorri, watch leader and navigator on board. "This is allowing us to steer a direct heading towards 25° longitude west, where the entrance gate to the Doldrums we want to take lies". And while this little shift that Bruno Peyron was waiting for yesterday has materialised, it has enabled them to score some nice average speeds and distance covered. At 1300 yesterday Orange had covered 519.26 miles at an average speed of 21.64 knots over the last 24 hours.

"This slight wind shift has also enabled us to hand the large gennaker and send up the reacher. So we're pointing higher and gaining speed!" Information easily confirmed when at the 1000 position report an instant speed of 31.3 knots was recorded. "I think that the record currently belongs to Hervé Jan's Breton watch," said Gilles. "What are we supposed to do now? Take 3 points off his licence or give him 3... As it's going well today, we'll congratulate him!"

Yesterday afternoon the Trade winds were due to back to the north-east and the crew were expecting to hoist the big gennaker again. After a slower patch day before yesterdat the northeasterly trades are now blowing at 20 knots and should whisk Orange along another 700 miles yet, before they reach the Doldrums.

Meanwhile life goes on on board. Reports from on board leave you in doubt that this is a French boat... "Yesterday evening we were treated to a gastronomic meal" continued Chiorri. "And while for lunch today we had a freeze-dried couscous, yesterday evening we were served duck confit and ravioli with cheddar... I can tell you, they licked their cans clean!"

Finally, on the health front, all is well because the two 'nurses' on board, Vladimir (Dzalda Lyndis) and Benoït (Briand) are making everyone to take their vitamin and mineral supplements to compensate for any deficiencies.

Crewman Philippe Péché, who took part on Team Adventure with Cam Lewis on The Race commented: "I've been picking up my old habits on board. In fact I've taken the same berth that I had on the last time round and I've rigged my little clothes line on which I hang my things to dry. Ah... When one gets old, one tends to get set in one's ways!"

On a not so distance part of the ocean Geronimo continues to make good progress back to Brittany. "We're charting a course towards a position 20° North and 40° West", explains Olivier de Kersauson "and we're making somewhere between 14 and 18 knots, depending on wind strength. We're going rather out of our way to avoid a low pressure system off Portugal". Geronimo therefore has some 4000 miles still to cover before she reaches her home port.

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