Off La Coruna

Geronimo continues her slow crawl to the finish line

Tuesday March 18th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 66 0300 Position 24hr run Av speed DTF
Geronimo 43°20N 11°35W 149.1nm 6.21 411nm

Geronimo is currently off La Coruña while Olivier de Kersauson and his 10-man crew try to escape from the flat calm which has left them stranded near busy shipping lanes. A light northerly air flow backing towards the east should allow them to make further headway north at the end of today. If this system becomes better established, the trimaran should be able to make good speed tonight and reach the tip of Brittany tomorrow.

Once in view of the coast, things will become more complicated with strong currents (generated by high tides) and a very light easterly wind due from the centre of the high pressure area that is now sitting right over the entrance to the English Channel. It is possible that a thermal breeze could develop during the afternoon, allowing Geronimo to complete her quite exceptional voyage finally.

Having arrived at Brest, weather router Pierre Lasnier looked back on this unusual meteorological situation: "A small depression took Geronimo as far as the Azores, but sadly that was the end of it, since it was prevented from travelling any further north by a continental anticyclone from Scandinavia which settled over the North Sea. Having covered the British Isles, it has since spread as far south as the Bay of Biscay off Brittany. At the same time, the flow of air from the east coast of the USA has petered out at 30° West near the Azores.

" Geronimo was caught between the two. The interruption of this system is very unusual and has lasted a long time. The masses of air involved have totally different densities and the subtropical air that carried the boat as far north as the Azores is very different again. This is why the crew has not been able to find a way out. Every time Geronimo started to make progress, she was stopped by a ridge of high pressure, as happened yesterday evening, with the result that she has not been able to break free from these two systems.

"It’s been the same ever since Cape Horn, apart from a small subtropical depression between 30° and 40° South near the Punta del Este, which produced winds of 20 to 25 knots, but the rest of the time, they have had to put up with winds of less than 13 knots. In my experience, this type of situation is rare, especially the destabilisation of the normally permanent trade winds. Given the situation, the boat has made exceptional speed".

Round the world solo sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede who is currently delivering his yacht Adrien back to France following his unsuccessful attempt on the westabout solo record commented: “For this to happen so close to the end is terrible, especially as they’ve had no mechanical problems. They’ve been let down by the weather, but that’s what happens with records. It must be pretty hard to accept and I hope that they have better luck next year!"

Météo Consult weather router Gilles Chiorri, a member of the record holding Orange team, said: "Given the lead they lost in the last quarter of the course, the disappointment on board must be huge. It’s a regrettable situation, but one that adds substance to the record, which always involves an element of luck. They were just unlucky this time".

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