Orange runs out of juice

Bruno Peyron's gang are trying to squeeze every last drop of speed out of the big cat

Wednesday April 17th 2002, Author: Mer & Media, Location: Transoceanic
Day 46 - 0800 GMT, 17 April 2002

Orange position: 40 deg 21S 30 deg 53 W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 384.05nm

Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 56deg 07S 76deg 34W

Orange is 3801nm further ahead of Sport Elec's progress after 46 days

After a phenomenal run, with virtually no let-up since Australia, Orange’s wild ride has come to an abrupt halt. The high pressure circulating off Africa has taken hold, and the big cat’s sails are hanging limp.

Helmsmen and trimmers are hunting the tiniest breath of air on a sea of little swell. They must gain ground to the NE, to reach the other side of the high. Because the threatening low is thundering up behind, with 45 knot winds more treacherously oriented NW, which would be right on their nose.

"It's a bit so-so today, we're crossing the high," was skipper Bruno Peyron's comment. "The low accelerated last night quicker than the weather models predicted" continued Peyron. "We'll have a job avoiding its eastern edge and its 45 knot headwinds." On a NE heading, the maxi-catamaran Orange is doing all she can to escape and cross the centre of high pressure and pick up the easterly winds.

The entire wardrobe of foresails is being called into effect; from hour to hour, even minute to minute, they must carry the right sail for the wind. One reef and solent, one reef and medium gennaker? The crew are testing all imaginable combinations of sail against the angle and force of the wind. "Six heavy manoeuvres per day since the start, sail changes and reef taking," admitted Peyron.

For lack of wind, Orange is running on muscle power. "It's no bad thing," said a smiling Yann Eliès, "After 46 days at sea, we're in top form." And that little ray of sunshine that is barely filtering through the cirrus is enough to multiply their enthusiasm. "Flat out in the south, one huddles down in the bottom of the hulls," continued Eliès. "It's good to enjoy the boat for a change, to dry a bit and laze on deck between watches."

Once again, Peyron's boys are going to have to fork out to see and touch the SE trades. How much? Aeolus the wind god will be presenting the bill in a day's time, maybe two! The Atlantic is a costly place for adventurers: "We crossed the Indian Ocean with one weather pattern, albeit a rather lousy one," calculated Peyron, "the Australian Bight and the Pacific with two well established patterns... and only three days into the Atlantic and we're already negotiating our third system."

Quotes:

Bruno Peyron: "The Pacific was ripe for attacking. The Atlantic along the Brazilian coast demands us to lift off the gas head to wind and seaway. After 21,000 nm of racing, we have no desire to be stopped by some breakage or other. We're lifting off, even it means taking it on the chin, and going after the trades without breaking. That's the objective."

Yann Eliès: "We're beginning to take it easier with the improving climate. The boat and the clothes are drying out. We're in excellent shape, the meals are perfectly balanced and we have no skin complaints to complain about, which for sailors who sail for extended periods in the damp on these boats is quite remarkable... I'm appreciating and learning a lot alongside Bruno. Last year on Team Adventure, everything was sacrificed for speed. On Orange, management of the men and the gear is the most important thing with an eye on long term performance..."

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