Orange takes to the sea
Orange , the former Innovation Explorer , at pace during sea trials
Sea trials are now underway in the south of France for Orange, Bruno Peyron's giant catamaran in which he will set off reclaim the Jules Verne Trophy in February.
The preparation phase onshore at the shipyard in La Ciotat is now complete, following the hard work of former Whitbread skipper Alain Gabbay, his team of 20 and under the watchful eye of boat captain Gilles Chiorri (a professional meteorologist and Figaro sailor) and Hervé Jan, who has just returned from Sydney after competing in the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Assa Abloy.
At the speed the sea trials are going Peyron is confident that Orange could be ready in two weeks time and could set off from Brest on the Jules Verne Trophy as early as 7 February. Down Marseilles way where Orange is currently based public interest is rising in the campaign which hopefully will see Peyron line up against Olivier de Kersauson's maxi trimaran Geronimo.
So far the sea trials have involved checking the technical side of the boat throughly - the rigging, sails, fittings, electronics - as well as being an opportunity to train and test the crew currently being selected. At present the only non-French sailor on board is Australian Nick Moloney.
Peyron describes Orange's first outing from La Ciotat in 20-25 knots sailing under two reefs and staysail took to sea. "Each sail change was followed by a general check-up. We have been managing the boat's rise in pressure slowly and progressively so that we can observe her slightest reactions. We shook out a reef, then at the end of the day we tried the new Solent, which allowed us to approach 30 knots on the clock already, without forcing. The boat is globally ahead of the schedule we fixed ourselves. The work of the technical teams has been remarkable. No unpleasant surprises to report after the check-ups. The boat could start in two weeks time if needs be!"
However the rest of Orange's programme remains unchanged. The coming weeks will enable crew training and selection to be pursued. Time and weather permitting, Bruno Peyron and his men might try a small speed record to Corsica, just to test the new sails. But whatever happens, the boat should be ready to leave Marseilles around January 22nd with her complete crew and stores.
Bruno Peyron briefs the crew. Nick Moloney, bottom left is the only non-French crewman.