Into the TradesAt 1100 today Orange reached 1500 mile mark since leaving the Créac'h lighthouse (Ushant) astern. Bruno Peyron's maxi-catamaran continues to reel in the miles and this morning left the Canary islands to port will sitting on a respectible average of 20 knots over 24 hours. And things are likely to look up for Bruno Peyron and his crew as they reach the stronger Trades within the next few hours.
"Conditions are quite different today" Bruno Peyron said during today's radio link. "We have gone from rather tough conditions with fairly violent squalls to a Trade Wind that isn't really one, it's rather slack, with 12/13 knots from the north-east. I'm fairly pleased with our position because we were able to pass outside the Canaries. I didn't want to go through them for fear of getting parked between islands. And the night was quite good, even if we were blocked for several hours at between 6 and 7 knots. But our 24 hour score is quite correct (452.4 miles at 1300 this morning at 18.85 knots average) and reaching the Canaries in 2 days and 20 hours isn't too bad!"
At present Orange is continuing to forge south sailing downwind, gybing at each slight change in the direction of the wind. Tactics are to head for the Cape Verdes and then curve west to cross the Doldrums around 25°W. Before this they must deal with a small ridge of high pressure that is generating light winds.
"We're carrying a full main and the big gennaker at the moment and we're slipping along at 18 to 19 knots. The sky is grey after being sunny this morning and the sea is quite calm" commented Peyron. "We're impatiently waiting for what the weather files have been announcing, that's to say a strengthening of the wind more easterly in direction. That would enable us to pass outside of Cape Verde islands (670 miles away at 1300) on just one gybe." Needless to say that a direct route on one gybe in a steady trade wind would speed the maxi-catamaran Orange all the quicker down to the Equator 1700 miles away at midday today.
Aside from keeping the 110ft cat going to the max, all the crew are looking after their areas of responsibility. "You have to anticipate everything and it's not when you have a problem that you should start to check it all over," explains Peyron. "For example, at the moment it's fairly calm and we're going to take advantage to send Florent (Chastel, in charge of rigging) up the inside of the mast to check all the halyards." Orange's giant wingmast is hollow and it is possible and considerably safer (although still a thoroughly unpleasant task) for a crewman to scramble up the inside to check the fittings.
"It's true that it can be a bit stressful and it's no good if you're claustrophobic when hauled up this huge chimney" added Florent. "I'm going to check everything, including the repairs that were made. But I can't complain, before, I had to haul myself up with the strength of my own arms. Now there's a halyard for hoisting me up the inside, right to the top!"