Geronimo pulls back

Conditions improving for Olivier de Kersauson's big tri

Saturday March 8th 2003, Author: Rivacom, Location: Transoceanic
Day 56 Position 24hr run Av speed Rel position
Geronimo 09°58N 35°00W 329 13.72 +113nm
Orange 09°20N 28°48W 213 8.89 -

Geronimo's position position at 15:00 GMT today: 12°58N 35°39W
Distance travelled in 12 hours: 184 nautical miles
Average speed over the last 12 hours: 15.33 knots

Now into the northeasterly Trades Geronimo, has more reliable breeze than she has experienced over the last 10 days of her Jules Verne Trophy voyage. She has pulled out a small lead again over her virtual rival, but position comparisons at this stage are both inaccurate and fairly meaningless as Geronimo - like Orange - is unlikely to be able to sail a direct course to the finish line off Brest.

Olivier de Kersauson and his 10-man crew must keep up the effort in the days ahead, since Orange made some very good headway in days 58, 59 and 60, averaging 475 nautical miles a day.

“There’s a mixture of calm and anxiety on board. Everyone is preoccupied with the same question: can we succeed in getting north? On every watch and at every hour, the boys are checking how far north we’ve managed. That’s what took us out of the Equatorial zone and the Doldrums. Actually, we had a lucky escape, because the Doldrums have moved 60 miles further north since we left the area.

"That was our limit. We can see that now: the trade winds to the north of us are not well-established. Nevertheless, it’s real, thank God, and so we progress. A boat slower than Geronimo in slack winds would have been stuck for another 24 or maybe 48 hours. Despite the fact that the trade winds are lazy, we’ll still have enough to take us north. We’ll be getting closer to the Azores High over the next day or two…

That’s part of the beauty of the Jules Verne Trophy – there are no written rules and you can’t take anything for granted. You have to wait to find out what each day will bring. The North Atlantic changes all the time. There’s no way of knowing exactly what type of weather system we can expect. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. It’s very stressful on the nerves, but our first thoughts must be to make headway further north. After that, we’ll see what happens soon enough…”

Ahead of Geronimo the weather system in the north Atlantic is looking distinctly volatile with three enormous high pressure systems spanning the ocean and an intense depression heading eastward to their north.

Another depression is tracking unusually south which is due over the Azores on Monday and de Kersauson must be cursing (and that doesn't take much...) that he is not 1-2 days further down to the track as picking up the winds from this would enable him to sail more or less directly towards the finish line (see image below). Unfortunately at this stage Geronimo will be lucky if she has made it to 22degN (the bottom line of latitude on the chart below is 30degN).

By the time Geronimo reaches here the high pressure system to the west in this image will once again be established over the Azores and Geronimo will presumably be forced to leave it to starboard, costing her many extra miles. At this stage we would say that the record is looking decidedly in the balance for de Kersauson.

By our reckoning Geronimo set sail on 11 January at 03:00:39. Orange's record currently stands at 64d 8h 37m 24s. To beat the record Geronimo must arrive before 11:38:03 GMT on Sunday 16 March if she is to set a new record for the Jules Verne Trophy.

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