Wriggling free of the high
Day 48 - 0806 GMT, 19 April 2002
Orange position: 33 deg 45S 18 deg 51 W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 396.52nm
Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 51deg 25S 55deg 29W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 450.9nm
Orange is 1397nm further down the track than Sport Elec after 48 days
Moving toward the centre of the South Atlantic Bruno Peyron's maxi-cat Orange is struggling to find an escape route from a massive high pressure currently spanning from South America to Africa.
While the soft belly of the high should be forgotten within 24 hours, Bruno Peyron and Gilles Chiorri hope to rapidly pick up the SE trades that should then propel them toward the Equator, which was 2000 miles away at midday today.
The mission for the next 24 hours on board the catamaran is simple: to find a shortcut across the high pressure system and as fast as possible catch up with its eastern edge, which will also mark the start of the SE trades. "The high is just ahead of us," explained Gilles Chiorri during today's radio session. "We're currently in a 10 knot northerly and are we're close hauled. The sky is superb with lots of depth. Yesterday we even saw a low pass behind us. I think it was about 20nm away, we could have taken it right on the nose with its 60 knot winds. We can really say that we played it well. I think we've got about 24 hours of this and then I hope we'll be picking up the SE trades. Somehow, this very easterly position could end up being very beneficial to us."
While this eastern option through the light winds might seem rather unusual compared with other Jules Verne Trophy routes (1071 miles off Olivier de Kersauson's position at the same latitude), the position could allow the team to shoot off quickly towards the Doldrums via the express trade winds motorway. "If you take a blackboard", explained Bruno Peyron, "you will see that the more to the east we enter this trade wind system that comes from the SE, the more we'll be able to open the sails and pick up speed to reach the Equator. Consequently we'll be entering the Doldrums well to the east, which is quite unusual for a return leg... that'll be an interesting one to follow."
Meanwhile, the maxi-cat Orange is sliding on a smooth sea at approximately 12 knots and is reeling in 390 miles a day. Will she have to park in the next 24 hours... Will she immediately pick up the saving trades which will propel her to within 3000 miles of the finish? The next 24 hours will be under close surveillance and so will the satellite photos and met' charts.