Day 54 - 0800 GMT, 25 April 2002
Orange position: 03deg 34N 23deg 18W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 286.7nm
Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 27deg 23S 31deg 59W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 255.5nm
Orange is 1,726 nm further down the track than Sport Elec
A combination of entering the Doldrums and the crew lifting their foot off the gas to help spare their rig has seen the daily mileage of Orange halve over the last 24 hours.
Since coming clean about the half broken titanium ball at the foot of Orange's mast, skipper Bruno Peyron has been adamant that his 110ft catamaran will not be subjected to sailing upwind as this will cause her to hobby horse placing undue strain on the bearing at the foot of the boat's giant spar.
Unfortunately their passage north to the Doldrums is putting them exactly on this point of sail and the boat today has been close hauled having to deal with a 12 knot northerly. Orange is currently heading in a north westerly direction.
During the lunchtime radio sched with the boat, a loud bang was heard. "Don't worry, the mast's still standing!" joked Bruno Peyron. In fact the noise was simply the boat crashing into another wave. "And that's exactly what we don't like," he continued. "We entered the Doldrums yesterday and now we have a northerly, therefore a headwind, of 12 knots with a fairly strange residual seaway. Normally, we should have an easterly which would correspond more logically with the Northern Hemisphere trades and here we have a headwind bang on the nose..."
Peyron attributed the headwind to a low pressure system which is growing off Dakar, that is disturbing the NE trades. As a result the crew has reduced sail reefing the main and hoisting the staysail, when they should be under full sail.
"The situation is dramatically simple" conceded Bruno philosophically. "We have no options to try because we must fetch the leading winds where they are. We're going to do a big loop to the west hoping that we can sail in beam winds in the trades, then pick up the leading winds that are turning round the high".
So the route we can expect to see Orange take over the next 10-12 days of her circumnavigation will be a giant loop towards the finish line similar to the one Sport Elec took on her record passage. This will add 25% to their distance home, but at present more than 1,700 miles ahead of Sport Elec's record Orange's crew have some days in bank to gamble with.
"If we have to lose one or two days, we'll lose them," commented Peyron. "What's important is finishing and bringing home the Jules Verne Trophy!"
Read Nick Moloney's daily report on page two...