Preparing for the south

A slow day for Geronimo

Friday January 24th 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
After a slow day spent crossing the southwestern side of the South Atlantic high, Geronimo has now picked up speed again and is making over 20 knots as her crew shiver at the first hints of the Southern Ocean. The maxi tri is now feeling the initial effects of her first Southern Ocean depression. Geronimo's track (as can be see above) has taken a more southeasterly track in order to get into the optimum position to ride the low. We can expect to see some big runs over the next few days.

"We're about to change worlds: we're entering the Southern Ocean and it's far from being a forgiving place, " commented de Kersauson, for whom this is his 7th circumnavigation. "All the signs are there to be seen: the light, the wildlife - we've seen our first albatross - and especially the sea, Already it has a different pace and you can feel the swell of the southern seas rising. The light is sublime and the temperature is dropping. Yesterday it was summer - now it's spring. The wind is beginning to come back, but we're ready for it. At the moment, we have 20 to 25 knots of wind, but that will rise to 30 or 35 knots later."

Despite the last few hours of calm weather, during which Geronimo has once again shown how well she can perform in slack winds, the giant trimaran is now on the same latitude as the remote British outpost of Tristan Da Cunha. "Making progress in such dull conditions was a struggle - you have to pay close attention and manoeuvre a lot. Every sea mile brought us closer to the end of it, but it's still tiring and stressful".

Geronimo will enter the Roaring Forties tonight, but she's well prepared for the challenge. The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric watches have used the calm weather to run a complete check-up on the boat.

The Schneider Electric watch will be resting when they cross the 40th parallel. De Kersauson is insistent that everyone gets the rest they need. "Fatigue is the number 1 danger on a boat. I make sure that no one loses concentration or the ability to react properly, and that means that they have to sleep".

As the chart above shows, Geronimo is now more than 800 miles or roughly two days sailing ahead of Orange's record breaking circumnavigation last year - quite a margin at this early stage. Incredibly she has got from Brest to the Southern Ocean in just 12 days!

Day 12 0300 Position 24hr distance Av speed
Geronimo 35°47S 17°55W 277 11.53
Orange 29°18S 29°32W 305 12.69

The boat's position at 15:00 GMT today (16:00 local time): 37°30S, 15°59W
Distance travelled in 12 hours : 139 nautical miles
Average speed over the last 12 hours: 11.57 knots

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