Orange back on the pace

Saint Helena High bars way to the South as Orange heads down the South American coast

Tuesday March 12th 2002, Author: Pierrick Garenne, Location: Transoceanic
Positions at 0800hrs GMT Day 9

Average speed from the start : 17,75 knots.

With 433 miles notched up in 24 hours at an average speed of 18.06 knots at 1200 yestaerday, the maxi-catamaran Orange has recovered its giant appetite. Orange is currently slipping along at more than 20 knots with a single reef in the main and staysail and is 400 miles to the east of Recife (Brazil).

"We're close reaching at the moment in a good 25 knot south-easterly" said Benoït Briand during the radio bulletin. "It's very wet and its quite hot, but it's impossible to leave anything open. On deck, everyone has his idea on how to dress. There are those in full oilies and bare feet, and others in shorts with an oily jacket. There's a bit of everything!"

It's filling a little in the centre and shifting to the west to come back even stronger to the east closing the door to the South Atlantic today to better centre itself between the African and American continents the day after tomorrow. This Saint Helena High knows how to tease and complicate the situation. Orange is going to have to choose: should they risk it to the east and cut through the ridge of high pressure on pain of beating to windward for several days, or should they gybe their way along the South American coast in light airs, struggling along the edge of this ridge?

And while they are on a SSE heading (193°), we can see that she is slipping along the South American coast and that they will be skirting the Saint Helena High to the west. For information, in the Southern Hemisphere, the winds turn anti-clockwise, so if Orange wanted to skirt the high to the east, she would have to beat in light airs, whilst if she skirts to the west, she will still have light air, but will be able to reach.

"The situation is not as bad as we thought yesterday" declared Gilles Chiorri at 1300 yesterday. "Yesterday, the high literally barred the way to the Deep South, today we can see that it is leaving a possible door open to the east and to the west. Now we know that maxi-catamarans are absolutely no good beating in light airs. So beating for several days in light winds is not a good idea. It would be better to skirt round to the west and multiply gybes, even in light airs, knowing that we should be picking up the succession of major lows below 30° South".

"We did a giant slalom multiplying gybes in the North Atlantic" put in Bruno Peyron "now we're going to do the same in the south. But this place has the reputation of being very fluctuating and the situation can evolve very quickly. You have to be on the ball and it's never simple!" On the other hand we can see the train of lows down below, and they're quite something."

Did you know: Chasing weight is omnipresent on this type of boat. And when you have to save some weight, the personal effects of each member of crew are of course reduced to their simplest expression. For instance, on the maxi-catamaran Orange, each member of crew was allowed 25 kilos of personal effects, including their sailing clothes...

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