Into the south
The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran is currently sailing through the islands of the Crozet Archipelago, a French territory governed by the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (T.A.A.F.), well to south of south-west India. Covering a total area of some 325 km2, the Crozet Archipelago is made up of many small islands, including the Île de la Possession, the Île de l'Est, the Île des Pingouins, the Île des Cochons and the Île des Apôtres, all of which were discovered by Marion Dufresne in 1772.
“I’ve been speaking to the captain of the T.A.A.F. vessel La Curieuse about the weather conditions around the Kerguelen islands, where they operate a weather station. We’re now on a course towards 50° south. If the weather conditions hold up - and it seems like they will – we should be able to reach 50° south and very probably leave the Kerguelens to our north. Everything is happening incredibly quickly here. This morning we had the wind changing direction all over the place and in less than 15 minutes, it had shifted by nearly 50 degrees, gusted as high as 45 knots and dropped to 18 or 20 knots”, reports Olivier de Kersauson.
Geronimo is currently sailing over shallows of 150 metres depth through a very heavy cross-swell from the north, which can be rather difficult to negotiate. The sights and sounds of the south are really beginning to make their presence felt: “We’re beginning to see the true colours of the South – that particular blue that you see nowhere else in the world. It’s quite extraordinary! The barometer is well down and the temperature is 5°C”. The wind is very variable both in strength and direction. The squally weather which has demanded a lot from the crew since yesterday has, nevertheless, given Geronimo the opportunity to strike south.
“It’s great to be able to head south, which we couldn’t do before because of the depressions. That was a real pain, because it added quite a lot of distance to our route. A course of 40° South is not much good, but if we can make good headway south now to between 49° and 50°, or even a little bit more, our route will be shorter and that’s what we’re here to do!” Everything continues to go well on board Geronimo, although there are times when the crew has felt really tired.
The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric crew have had little time to rest in the last 48 hours. The trimaran is now entering a more predictable weather system, which means less variation in wind strength and direction, giving crewmembers the time to recover a little.
“In the next few hours, we should make it to 70° east, 50° south, which would allow us to pass the Kerguelen Islands to the South. I think that this route is reasonable. It’s great to be heading for 50° South and more, having spent so much time in the North!”
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Geronimo’s position at 03:00 GMT on 31/01/03. The boat’s position at 15:00 GMT today (16:00 French time) 45°48S, 52°02E Distance travelled in 12 hours: 228 nautical miles. Average speed over the last 12 hours: 19 knots