Home straight

Orange is due to cross the finish line Sunday morning

Saturday May 4th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 63 - 0800 GMT, 4 May 2002

Orange position: 47deg 37N 15deg 18W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 410nm
Distance to finish 410nm

Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 14deg 14N 31deg 35W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 254.1nm

Orange is 2,330 nm further down the track than Sport Elec

The penultimate day of a historic round the world record breaking trip , the last night on board and the crew of Orange are feeling a mix of emotions - all of them heightened. Bruno Peyron and his crew have spent two continuous months at sea, usually sailing at break neck speeds and look set to lop a large chunk off the existing record. And this is aside from the fact that skipper Bruno Peyron was the first man to bring this non-stop round the world loop down below 80 days. Understandably it means a lot to the man.

But first Orange must finish and the maxi-catamaran has been racing to get home, not only to get this long record in the bang, but to beat a barrier of light winds that the forecasts have said will form just to the west of the finish line between the lighthouse on the island of Ushant and the Lizard.

So the lottery remains open - when exactly will Orange finish? "Between 0600 and midday perhaps..." Bruno Peyron says not wanting to commit himself. "The finish of a race is so unpredictable."

In the meantime Orange is maintaining a very fast 24/25 knots directly at the mark, gobbling up 560 miles a day sailing on port tack, under full main and Solent jib.

And the drama hasn't ended. Yesterday, the big gennaker gave up the ghost in a big explosion of sail cloth. "It made us worry about the mast" said Peyron, "because it literally exploded into shreds."

For the crew there is a certain amount of introspection going on. "There's huge concentration from the entire crew" described Bruno, "something that resembles distance, interiority, as if each one wants to keep his sentiments to himself. As far as I'm concerned, I'm beginning to feel a zest of nostalgia when I look at these narrow tubes of carbon in which 13 men have lived in perfect harmony for 64 days...".

Regarding her finish, it is expected to be misty and Orange may find herself sailing upwind - a final hurdle for Peyron's team. Fortunately the conditions are expected to be light and the sea slight, so this should not present too many problems for the big cat and her fragile mast bearing.

"Visibility permitting, we will cross the line 2.5 miles off the light. In case of mist or dark, we have alerted the Stiff lighthouse keepers whose witness will be valid," commented Peyron.

Currently Orange is on her 63rd day at sea. At 0936 French time (0736 GMT) tomorrow Sunday she will start her 64th day.

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