Zest free days ahead for Orange

Peyron is between a rock and a hard place weather wise in the South Atlantic

Thursday April 18th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Nick Moloney reports from on board Orange...
We are currently trying to sail as fast as we can to the east. the low to the west of us is very powerful and our current location is expecting 65knots of wind tomorrow. If we can gain enough west ground tonight we may only see 25-30 upwind.

Yesterday was our first day in around 20 that we had clear skys and sunshine. I know that this sounds corny but it was like a visit from an old friend. I sat for a period under the companion way dome and absorbed some of the sun's natural warmth through the perspex. The world looked almost normal again.

By late afternoon the frontal clouds rolled in and we have begun skirting this next system throughout the night. At the moment it's early morning and we are all waiting in full wet weather gear to change sails when the wind builds quickly as per forecast.

We are still under full main and Solent, but the gusts are getting stronger and the top of our wingmast has begun to humm. Flat seas are assisting our speed which is around 17knots but the night is very dark.

Quite a few of the lads are frustrated by the lack of north in our course and are becoming impatient to get home. In the last two days the sea temperature has risen from 8 to 18 degC which is quite amazing. Along with sunshine we were treated yesterday by two albatross swooping off our bows and our first sighting of flying fish.

It's an anxious period awaiting a storm. We all know the procedure but while your heart is saying 'you're almost there' the chance of breakage due to strong winds and rough seas makes you feel like the finish is another three months away. Actually if we get headed any more we will sail under South Africa and have to do another lap...

I am happy with our progress. We have been smokin', but we have sailed a lot of extra distance to avoid storms. I have always treated offshore racing as though the fleet were leaving a trail of string in their path. At the end of the race you retrieve your trail of string, roll it into a ball and usually those wilth the smallest balls of string are the top place getters.

I was very surprised today to hear that our AVERAGE speed since the beginning is over 18kts...wow! I will be interested to see what our actual distance sailed will be at the finish.

We are 38 degrees south now so officially out of the Roaring Forties and beyond. I hope that the weather maps improve for us here in the South Atlantic for, as we all know too well, the clock is ticking.

Even Gilles our navigator in now predicting a finish on my birthday May 5. What a gift that would be.

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