Slow is a relative term

Though Olivier de Kersauson's pace has slowed he is still way ahead of the record

Saturday February 23rd 2002, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: Transoceanic

Approaching the Cape Verde islands off Senegal, Geronimo has finally slowed in her headlong rush towards the equator. "The wind that was more easterly earlier on has come round behind us," explains Olivier de Kersauson. "If we had continued directly towards the equator, it would have made us slower."

That's not to say their record attempt has come off the rails. Far from it. Though forced to tack and now sailing some 50 degrees off the direct course, Geronimo is still proceeding at an unprecedented rate towards the equator. Record breaking pace would have seen the crew covering just over 1000 miles since leaving. In fact they are over 2000 miles down the track. The next big hurdle is getting through the Doldrums. And it really doesn't matter how fast you boat is if there is no wind. The secret is to pick a lane through this notorious area of calms that is as narrow as possible. "We will be working with our weather consultant, Pierre Lasnier, to try and understand what is happening," says de Kersauson.

Indeed, even the combined skills of one of France's top weather routers and the enormously experienced de Kersauson are having trouble working out what is going on. Though Geronimo is lavishly fitted with all the latest satellite communications equipment, de Kersauson admits that sometimes the systems are not all they are cracked up to be. "I'm getting a bit fed up with the unreliable information I'm getting now", he says. "But that doesn't come as any surprise. It's like the old days when no one had any serious data. We're going to have to manoeuvre the boat a lot before we get through this. And there's nothing very new about that."

Although the weather will be unpredictable for several days yet, Geronimo is expected to cross the equator on Sunday. Weather permitting, this will undoubtedly be a phenomenal achievement - Europe to the Equator under sail in less than a week. Think about it.

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