Calm before the (next) storm

Orange gets some southing in

Tuesday March 26th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 0800GMT
Day 24 Lat Long Distance over last 24 hrs Distance sailed since start Speed last 24 hrs Instant speed
Orange 43°24 S 62°44 E 409,41 m 10125,63 m 17,06 kn 14,2 kn
Sport Elec 49°27 S 42°43 E 417,8 m 8085,6 m 17,4 kn

371 miles to the north of the Kerguelen Islands, Orange is taking advantage of a day of transition in the weather, a short respite after the tough sailing conditions of the last 48 hours. But behind them another low pressure system is approaching and how this develops will dictate the route of skipper Bruno Peyron.

This morning Orange caught up with a zone of high pressure, leaving them in relatively light winds. The sea is flattening out after the bad weather of the last few days, leaving a residual swell and the sun is trying to break through the perpetual grey.

Slowly the wind is veering to the south-west. Later in the day it will veer further to the north-west. Then Orange will be slipping along to the east of the Kerguelens, looking for a way out from their latest meteorological headache.

"We know that the southerly flows create a very difficult seaway that prevents us from descending" explained Peyron. "We constantly need to search for the best compromise between wind angle, sea state, heading and boat speed. This year none of these factors would seem to come together to allow Orange to give her best. I maintain in any case, that preservation of the equipment is the sine qua non for any chance of achieving a result.

"On board we're coping with the frustration of having to manage a difficult sea state in abnormally oriented winds in a geographic region of the globe where Orange should be notching up some impressive averages. But Orange's crew is made up of professional sailors who know what it takes to drive a boat in these difficult seas.

"We're chafing at the bit and doing our utmost to get out of this zone as quickly as possible, with a boat with her full potential intact. We're sailing as best we can with the wind and the sea, attentive to how the boat is trimmed and to maintenance, with a "conservative" approach, the only guarantee in our eyes of taking the project all the way through".

Orange is taking advantage of the calmer reaching conditions to gain some southing and make up some of the difference in latitude with Olivier de Kersauson's route in 1997, a difference that makes it difficult to calculate the number of miles lead that Peyron has over the Jules Verne trophy record.

But it is a slow ride at present. "Our current speed is absolutely unsatisfactory," commented Peyron. "The culprit is the direction and state of the sea preventing us from putting on the power on pain of breaking the boat. We have got a little respite today. But a new problem will be facing us in two days time: violent winds, rough seas.. reduced speed..."

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