Orange reaches Cape of Good Hope

The big cat is way ahead of record pace as she exits the Atlantic, but now it's going to get nasty in the Deep South...

Wednesday March 20th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Position at 0800 this morning

Day 18 Lat Long Distance last 24 hours Distance since start Speed last 24 hours Instant speed
Orange 38°31S 10°56 E 530,86 m 7631,49 m 22,12 kn 22,4 kn
Sport Elec 37°24S 13°48 W 418,60 m 5588,10 m 17,44 kn nc

Orange is on the verge of passing the first major landmark of her round-the-world passage in record breaking time. Bruno Peyron's team are making blistering progress towards the Cape of Good Hope, and the crew expect to break Sir Peter Blake's record between Ushant and Good Hope some time tonight.

The Atlantic has been kind to the maxi catamaran, not just in terms of wind and waves, but even water temperature for what is a relatively late departure for a round-the-world attempt. The air is warm, the water is 16°C and the legendary albatrosses have been upstaged by flying fish.

Philippe Péché was lapping it up. "We have just hoisted the medium gennaker, I'm in oilskin pants and stripped to the waist, running with sweat!" The north-westerly that has been propelling them at full speed for two days has also been unseasonably warm. "It's the world upside down," said skipper Peyron. "In '93, we feared for ice. Today we're passing schools of flying fish". Still clinging on to latitude 38° south, Orange is biding her time before plunging into the forties. The centre of a very active depression is moving very fast under the catamaran which is sliding along in a strengthening 30 knot north-westerly.

The conditions may be kind, but there is no let-up in the workload. The crew are making several sail changes a day to keep Orange piling along at optimum speed in the changing wind conditions. This is an acrobatic act on a 20 tonne 'monster' permanently launched at between 25 and 30 knots. "The header expected tomorrow will permit us to gybe and slip down south," said Bruno. "But the rotation to the south-west will be accompanied by 40 to 45 knot winds! I hope we will have crossed the Agulhas shelf by then. I wouldn't like to face the crossed seaway that the sudden rising of the seabed creates." Orange can now expect to clock up day after day of 24-hour runs of 530 miles or more. In the virtual race with current Jules Verne record holder, Orange is more than 2,000 miles ahead of where Sport Elec had reached five years ago. They are a day and a half ahead of Club Med's progress in The Race of a year ago.

Peyron said he could push the boat harder, but is chief concern is the Jules Verne record, not a crash-and-burn attempt on the 24-hour record. Crewman Philippe Péché commented: "Bruno Peyron is an amazing regulator. He senses what's coming and anticipates marvellously to keep Orange perfectly balanced. He is playing for the long term, favouring as always safety, sparing the boat and pure performance. Even if sometimes we sail a bit under canvassed, we are never caught out by sudden changes of wind."

Click on page 2 to read Orange crew member Nick Moloney's diary of progress on the big cat...

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