Difficult days for Orange

Orange makes good progress as they near the Southern Ocean and the expected strong winds

Wednesday March 13th 2002, Author: Pierrick Garenne, Location: Transoceanic
    Anticyclones are usually synonymous with nice weather and nice weather is usually synonymous with a lack of wind. This means that the Orange is "on a diet" today and is making steady progress weaving between squalls. As expected, Bruno Peyron and his men are sailing along to the west of the Saint Helena high whose centre is less than 300 miles away to the ESE and they are trying to cope with the lines of squalls and the wind variations, both in strength and in direction.

    "We're juggling between sail trimming and slight changes of helm but we're following the heading we fixed ourselves, that's to say 200°. We're continuing to skirt the Saint Helena high that is extending westward" confirmed Gilles Chiorri, the navigator. "But normally from tomorrow evening, we should be able to head east and find more honourable averages!"

    "We've got two difficult days ahead of us" said Bruno during the chat session. "Our average is going to fall, but that's what we're expecting. After tomorrow, we should be picking up some fairly strong winds that will enable us to get back to our south-east heading again".

    And whilst everyone is chafing at the bit waiting for the 20/25 knot winds, each one is taking advantage to check over his part of the boat before entering the Southern Ocean and its famous merry-go-round of repetitive lows.

    "We've got about 13 knots of wind and we're currently weaving between squalls" said Philippe Péché during today's radio chat. "We're under medium gennaker and full main and we're avoiding taking the boat through the squalls so that she won't suffer and to save us multiple sail changes".

    At today's (Wednesday 13 March) 1200 position report, Orange was all the same credited with a very respectable 426 miles at an average of 17.79 knots. "We have 48 hours ahead of us before finding windier conditions again, so we're taking advantage to very carefully check every part of the boat" said the skipper. "Florent (Chastel) has been up the mast more than a dozen times already and Yves (Le Blevec) is checking over all the structural parts of the boat, that's to say the inside and outside of the hulls, the forward compartments and the beams. The boat must be in impeccable condition for her entry into the Southern Ocean and we must use these two calmer days to do it".

    The Southern Ocean, on everyone's mind.

    D-2 days before really getting down to business, that's to say a 20/25 knot wind that will propel the Orange onto that great motorway of following winds in the Southern Ocean.

    "Of course the boys are asking questions" said Philippe Péché, the Cape Horner. "They want to know if it's cold, if it snows. But that's normal, some of them are entering a world that is both totally unknown to them but so attractive". "One eye on the instruments, one ear for the discussions. One subject crops up regularly, discreetly" writes Jean-Baptiste Epron in an e-mail today. "With modesty and without wanting to give it too much importance, those who don't know the South (like me) have been trying to glean a little information. No doubt to be better prepared, no doubt to try and anticipate what we don't know and no doubt for minimising our fears."

    The South always causes a little apprehension and anxiety in both those who don't know it and those who do in fact" prompted Bruno Peyron. "But it is also very humiliating faced with this immensity, we're just a tiny dot, almost nothing at all. And you should never forget that!"

    Quote / unquote...

    Philippe Péché: "Last year in The Race, we had a fairly easy Southern Ocean and we had no really strong breezes. The strongest we had was 57 knots of wind, I think...". (editorial note: no comments...)

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