Still touch and go
Positioned at 49° 58.16'N and 21° 45.88'W today at 1400GMT, Orange II was on a bearing of 76°, with her bows pointing directly towards The Lizard. The gybe that was planned for late yesterday occurred at just the right moment, allowing the crew to get back on a favourable course.
"I believe it's quite reasonable to think that we should be able to finish on a single tack, and the boat has proved that she is capable of doing better than the 605 miles that we have left to do in the final 24 hours", continued Peyron. "But it's going to be tough, because the seas have got up... We won't have the usual worries that those attempting this record face - that is a weather system on which they have sailed right across and which gives up the ghost in the final stretch - as I know we will be keeping the wind with us. On the other hand, forcing our way through with the windward hull in the air is a little bit daring! Sometimes the keel is coming 1.5 or even 2 m out of the sea, as if Orange II was just a little dinghy! We have to be very careful and may well have to ease off a little..."
The crew will have to push Orange II to the limit in the final run in towards the Lizard. With their minds focussed on the job, they are naturally tired and are now facing intense stress: to push the boat as hard as possible without breaking it.
"This is where you can see the real difference between a tough guy - those, who have trained the hardest - and the others: I'm one of the latter category, as I have really spent too much time in the office over the last few months!" Peyron says. "Out on deck, the manoeuvres are carried out more and more efficiently, and changing the gennaker now takes 13 minutes. Lowering 700 sq.m of cloth, rolling it up tidily, and then hoisting another 500 sq.m sail immediately... Doing that in less than a quarter of an hour requires a lot of energy! But I really must leave you now, as we're taking in the second reef, and I think it needs to be done urgently."
If conditions hold the Orange II maxi-catamaran should cross the finishing line tomorrow afternoon. Once the line has been crossed, she will head for La Baule which she should reach on Thursday. The boat is due to do a little sailing around La Baule Bay early on Thursday afternoon, before berthing in Pornichet Harbour around 2.30pm.
The winds are currently around 30 knots from the northwest. Overnight the wind looks set to remain fairly consistent but by tomorrow afternoon as the boat is approaching the Lizard it will have continued to veer to the NNW and will drop in pressure marginally.