Patience is a virtue
Day 55 - 0800 GMT, 26 April 2002
Orange position: 06deg 27N 26deg 42W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 267.9nm
Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 24deg 08S 31deg 01W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 201.9nm
Orange is 1,755 nm further down the track than Sport Elec
Vladimir Dzalda Lyndis at the helm
Averaging 8.85 knots for a day would cause the champagne to be cracked on a majority of racing boats. But on a 110ft catamaran such as Orange it could be described as limping along. Fortunately they are still are more than 1,700 miles ahead of Sport Elec's report and can afford to play it safe.
Today Orange have been well and truly tackling the Doldrums. "We had not been expecting much wind anyway," explained Bruno Peyron during the radio chat session at lunchtime today. "However, we'd prefer to be on a heading of 330° rather than 300°. But that's the way the cookie crumbles!"
Orange is still heading gingerly north west upwind. The sea is improved over yesterday, but annoyingly, the fickle conditions of the Doldrums appear to be moving north with them.
"Fortunately the sea has calmed since yesterday evening," said Peyron. "There's a fair bit of light air ahead and a little more perhaps over the next 24 hours. But we'll be sticking to this course for four or five more days yet. Patience is of the essence - on this course you can find yourself flying down waves in the Southern Ocean at speeds of 30 knots and climbing up the Atlantic at just 8 knots ! ".
For the crew this is the home straight, the final run home to Brest and it is hugely frustrating to have to limp along in order to protect the boat. "As every sailor knows, light winds are often worse than heavy weather. You have to be that much more attentive and concentrate all the more in light winds where every mile clocked up is worth two or three what it would be otherwise," explains Peyron.
So how is crew motivation? " We're only too aware that it could all come to an end anytime," announced Jean-Baptiste Epron. "But the crew remains highly motivated and we're sailing with blinkers on. We're keeping our eyes firmly set dead ahead and we know we have to get on with it. As for the atmosphere on board, nothing's changed. It's excellent. There's no question of letting things go. If a piece of clothing which is drying falls down and you're on watch, you are the one who gets up and puts it back in place, even if it's not yours. We'll be keeping an eye out for each other right through to the very end ! ".
Once again the forecast ahead is looking wierd for Orange. On Saturday the Azores high looks set to weaken and then almost subside leaving a delightful weather map showing Orange experiencing north easterly all the way to Ushant! By the middle of next week the high pressure system is forecast to re-establish itself, bu will then sidle off to the east, although there will be strong following winds associated with a north Atlantic depression to hook into if they can get north of 30degN by midweek.
Carbon meister - Yves le Blevec