Back on the pace

There is a more confident feeling from the Orange team as they line up to tackle the Azores High

Monday April 29th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 58 - 0800 GMT, 29 April 2002

Orange position: 20deg 01N 34deg 14W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 409.36nm

Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 04deg 41S 29deg 22W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 415.7nm

Orange is 1,510 nm further down the track than Sport Elec

Bruno Peyron and his on board meteorologist Gilles Chiorri's reading of the Azores high's position later this week is that it will drift off to the east. Thus the favourable following winds they seek now look as though they will lie on a more direct route to the Ushant finish line than previously thought.

However this morning Bruno Peyron had again backed off to the north west in order to prevent Orange crashing across waves in an intensifying north easterly headwind. They were going fast and have once again pulled off a day in excess of 400 miles, but sadly at almost 90deg to the direct route back to the Jules Verne finish line. Fortunately conditions are expected that will allow Orange to resume their northerly heading later today.

Rather than sailing the extra miles around the high pressure system Peyron is threatening to sail through it (as he did with the St Helena High in the south Atlantic) and while this will be shorter it will also be slower with less wind. In email back from the boat Peyron talks of heading directly for the Azores but the most westerly island in this mid-Atlantic group is at 39degN 29degW and they will have to get considerable easting in to achieve that.

Today one senses an increased feeling of optimism from the crew and they say this is to due to the successful (touch wood...) repair to the titanium ball at the bottom of the mast which semi broke last week. Since then crewman Ronan le Goff has managed to get the lubrication system working again with the help of some pressurised air from a scuba tank while Yves le Blevec has put a carbon fibre collar around the mast, effectively preventing the mast from jumping out of the boat.

"Since Ronan has been able to repair the greasing system, the ball no longer rubs directly on the mast foot shell and the friction that caused the crack have practically disappeared," explained Peyron during today's radio chat with the boat.

Strong following winds await ito the north of the high, but the crew are keen that they make it that far to see them. "Each time we jump a wave, we jump 40 cms out of our bunks" said Chiorri. "You can imagine what the mast is going through upwind!"

The performance and handling of Orange has slowly changed in the two months they were at sea, due to the consumption of fuel and food. "Her behaviour at the helm has become very pleasant," explained Peyron. " Orangeis very sound. She picks up very quickly and the helmsman can really play with the waves."

Peyron will not be drawn on an ETA for the boat, but it is expected to be Sunday or Monday. "There's lots to happen yet," said Peyron. "Our time up until now is rather good. But the boat will be demanding our attention until the end. On this subject, Yann (Eliès) told us about his dream, or rather his nightmare. You know that with our rather shortened sleeping patterns our dreams are both more violent and easier to recall. And Yann dreamt last night, to the dismay of the crew and to preserve the boat, that I ordered the mast to be replaced by the... boom!"

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