On to the rollercoaster

Orange finally makes the Southern Ocean - plus Nick Moloney's logbook

Monday March 18th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
DAY 16 Lat Long Distance over last 24 hrs Distance from start Speed average last 24 hours Instant speed
ORANGE 36°44S 11°21W 423,33 m 6564,37 m 18,01 kn 17 kn
SPORT ELEC 26°24S 22°14W 334,6 m 4791 m 14 kn nc

The South Atlantic has been particularly sticky even for Bruno Peyron's 110ft maxi-catamaran. One high pressure system pushed them most of the way towards Brazil and when they were able to head south east another developed to their south preventing them from making a fast passage into the strong westerlies of the Southern Ocean.

So it is with some relief when Peyron reported today "at last we can say that this is our first day in the Southern Ocean. The boat is doing between 25 and 26 knots and we should be enjoying this NW flow for several days". And settling into the long swell of the South Atlantic Orange should soon experience her first 25 knot downwind surf of their voyage around the planeet and really begin to start putting on the miles.

Even if one must 'remain Zen' as Bruno Peyron wrote in his daily e-mail yesterday morning, we could hear in the sound of the voices of those interviewed today, their smiles from the speed of the spray flying in their faces!

25 knots of wind from the north-west, is creating a cross swell but this is consolidating from the south-west. "Yesterday was a day of recompense after the sort of horror we've been through these last few days," said a relieved Bruno. "The boat is sailing well, we're under full main and big gennaker or single reefed main and small gennaker. We're on a good track with a heading of 110° and we're making for the southernmost tip of Africa on a fairly northerly route". While yesterday Orange was sailing to the west of Sport Elec's track, she has now crossed this and is to the east of the record holder's route.

"There is a low pressure zone to the south generating very powerful winds," explained Gilles Chiorri, Orange's resident meteorologist "and we don't particularly want to rub shoulders with it. To the north there isn't enough wind and in any case it's not our route. We're exactly in the sort of winds we want, that's to say 25 knots from the north-west that should strengthen by day's end or tonight. We've no interest in getting mixed up with winds that are too strong. We should be favouring winds of around 30 knots which suit our boat best".

Chiorri's only regret was not getting to see Tristan da Cunha which they passed 20 miles north of. "We didn't even see anything... The last land we saw was the south-west point of Madeira. The next will probably be Prince Edward 2171 miles away today...".

But before reaching that, the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope is less than 1500 miles away. In reaching this Orange will have made the first of the great capes to be left to port as stipulated in the Jules Verne Trophy rules. While Sport Elec passed the southern tip of Africa after 22 days at sea, the Ushant / Cape of Good Hope record is still held by ENZA New Zealand with a time of 19 days and 17 hours... Will Orange be able to beat this time?

To date, Bruno Peyron says, it has been a unusual voyage. "There's some strange goings on in this low down world: we've only been able to sail in corridors of wind since the start of this Jules Verne, we've got flying fish with albatrosses and in a water at 20° and up until yesterday we've been beating to enter the land of the Southern Forties!"

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