Riding the 50th parallel

Geronimo notches up highest daily run of her trip so far

Monday February 3rd 2003, Author: Rivacom, Location: Transoceanic
The red squares above show the positions for Geronimo every 12 hours. The red crosses top left show the equivalent positions of Orange after days 22 and 23. The depression to their south is set to intensify greatly over the next 48 hours.

Day 23 Position 24hr distance Av speed
Geronimo 50°20S 83°12E 550 22.92
Orange 42°25S 53°31E 307 12.78

The boat’s position at 15:00 GMT today (16:00 French time) 50°22S, 89°13E
Distance travelled in 12 hours: 230 nautical miles.
Average speed over the last 12 hours: 19.20 knots.

Geronimo has just had her best day at sea since beginning her Jules Verne Trophy attempt. Olvier de Kersauson's Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran covered 550 nautical miles over the last 24 hours, at an average speed of nearly 23 knots. Since passing to the south of the Kerguelen Islands, Geronimo has been heading due east.

“We’re making between 24 and 25 knots almost all the time," commented an elated Olivier de Kersauson today. " Geronimo is really gliding and the sea conditions are good.

For the crew of Geronimo it will be a case of making hay while the sunshines as sometime within the next 15 hours, Geronimo will be caught by an extremely fast-moving front travelling at around 50 knots, which could bring some very difficult and turbulent seas with it.

"This front could create such a sea that we might not be able to hold our current heading," continued de Kersauson. "The very direct route that we’ve been able to take since we passed south of the Kerguelen Islands has helped us to gain a three day advantage over Bruno Peyron’s record time. It’s by no means certain that the bad weather now on its way will help us increase our lead, but I hope that it won’t prevent us from maintaining it.

"The decision on whether or not to stay in the Furious Fifties depends on how this front presents itself and how it hits us. The Australian forecasters are describing it as very powerful, but the European forecasters don’t seem to agree. We may have to go a little further south, which I don’t really want to do, because we are already in the Antarctic convergence zone, which means potential ice. If it turns out that we can’t get through the storm and we have to go further south, we may have to heave-to until it has passed”, explains the skipper.

It’s now a little over three weeks since the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric crew left Brest, and fatigue is beginning to set in. Watches can be difficult when the boat is travelling this fast and moving around so much. “Nevertheless, it’s done nothing to discourage the speed competition between the two watches. The race is really on now, because the winds are pretty well sustained. Both are putting between 128 and 140 nautical miles on the clock every watch. So it’s war between Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric. It’s a lot of fun”, says the skipper.

And what drives the crew of Geronimo on this race for sea miles? “Honour, of course!” The crew may be intent on clocking up the miles, but every member is conscious of the need to take care of the boat and its equipment. “You’re always tempted to really go for it, but when the sea doesn’t let the boat glide properly, the impacts can be incredibly hard. Last night, wave impact meant we had to make two emergency repairs. It’s dangerous for the boat and the crew. You have to strike the right balance”.

In the next few hours, everything depends on the type of seas Geronimo meets, but the weather systems of the Indian Ocean can be very violent and very fast-moving. “The Australian weather warnings show us that the forecast could be increased by 40%. We know that there can be “extra” effects in these seas, where the mixtures of air flows predicted by the forecast don’t always happen, but we’ll see…”

See the Australian pressure chart here

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