20.5 knot five day average

Orange continues her romp down the Atlantic, but has an appointment with the Doldrums today

Thursday March 7th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Orange has now passed the Cape Verdes, leaving them to leeward as he did the Canaries. So far there have been no problems other than a wind that was too far aft earlier in the week. Now she is approaching the Doldrums which skipper Bruno Peyron and navigator and on board meteorologist Gilles Chiorri must work hard to navigate their way through without hold up.

"For the time being" explained skipper Bruno Peyron, "the wind is still NNE and is pushing us at about 15 knots. We're nice and westerly now, much more than on my last voyage with Commodore, and according to our weather files, we should benefit right to the end from a little air."

Already the wind is dying and the Doldrums are visible on the horizon. The sky is clouding over, and the speedometer is falling to more 'normal' standards... To date these have been impressive - since leaving on Monday Peyron had yesterday covered 2,500 miles at an average of 20.5 knots. But for Orange this is cruising speed.

It's been a very technical first part to the race, when we had to constantly anticipate and play with not always favourable wind angles," commented Peyron. "In these conditions our 'scores' since the start have been very satisfactory. It's frustrating when you know Orange's potential, not being able to give her her head. But we have to favour headings in order not to fall into traps. We're very concentrated on the evolution of the weather over the next 2 or 3 days but we can't help glancing at the enormous St Helena high parked in our way..."

Achieving this the crew have had their work cut out for them already as crewman Yann Eliès explains: "our very full set of foresails enables us to constantly adapt to the slightest variations of wind in strength and angle. This results in an impressive number of man¦uvres, 38 sail changes since the start."

The crew are now thoroughly into their routine on board. "The boys are ready for the deep south. They're manoeuvring to perfection, sleeping like babies and are devouring like ogres" commented Peyron. "This complicated navigation has obliged us to be 100% attentive and responsive. So far, we haven't been able to complain about a single false manoeuvre."

To break ENZA New Zealand's record to from the Jules Verne Trophy to the start line Orange must reach the Equator by 1200 on Saturday.

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