Survival mode

Conditions have still not abated for Orange

Monday March 25th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 0800 GMT
Day 23 Lat Long Distance over last 24hrs Distance since start Speed last 24 hrs Instant speed
Orange 42°24S 53°31E 306,65m 9714,9m 12,78 kn 15,2 kn
Sport Elec 48°11S 32°10E 456m 7681,9m 19 kn nc

The awful situation of Orange as she attempts to cross the Indian Ocean part of the Southern is getting no better thanks to a highly irregular set of weather conditions that they have encountered. The crew are currently thinking less of the potential Jules Verne Trophy record they have set on and more on ensuring that their 110ft catamaran stays in one piece in the horrific conditions - remarkably they are currently sailing upwind.

"Behind Orange there is a vast area of high pressure generating southerly winds," explains Eric Mac, one of the forecasters at Météo Consult, one of the routing companies in France working with the team. "It is impossible to descend, especially in view of the disorderly state of the sea. In front, there is a 'wall' of low pressure the evolution of which at Orange's latitude bodes nothing good for the next 24 hours."

The low evolving to the north-east of the Kerguelens is severe, bringing with it 50+ knots winds! It is slowly moving away to the north-west, but in skipper Bruno Peyron's mind this is too slow and he is looking for an escape route to the south. But to go south they have to go upwind into southerly winds and in the conditions this could be enough to destroy the 110ft carbon fibre cat - so much for fast racing cats being able to dictate their terms to the wind Gods. "There's a mouse hole somewhere," commented Peyron, "it's up to us to find it!"

As the figures above confirm Orange has been making relatively slow progress (just over 300 miles is slow for her...) sailing under bare poles or triple reefed main and storm jib. "We're progressing on an east-south-east heading at about fifteen knots, peaking at 20! Not bad under staysail and 3 reefs!" said Peyron. For the time being they must make some easting, and pick a way south to the Furious Fifties little by little, where they hope to find better wind and sea angle. "We need to get down into the Fifties, and get under a tropical low that is forming ahead of us at 43° South," continued the skipper.

Sailing on starboard tack, Orange was due to pass north of Crozet island today and the team plan to leave the Kerguelens -to starboard. Around the Kerguelens in strong winds the sea can be particularly hazardous as the seabed shelves steeply.

Peyron hopes that the wind will have veered to the west by then, before settling in the northwest allowing her to get back to the job in hand. "In the extreme conditions we're going through, our greatest satisfaction would be not breaking anything" explained Peyron. "Preserving the gear in 10 knots of wind is nothing difficult, it's our daily lot, but in a monster storm with the boat slamming and waves breaking, it's a veritable challenge for the boys on Orange to make sure that we're ready and prepared for resuming the attack as soon as our hour comes round again".

See page two for Nick Moloney's account from on board...

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