Day 32 - 0800 3 April 2002
Orange position: 54deg 04S 140deg 09E
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 486.23nm (20.25knots average)
Compared to Sport Elec in 1997
Position: 49deg 39S 129deg 54E
Distance between the boats today - 692 nm
Down the track: currently Orange is 679 nm ahead
Hopes are up on Orange now that her nightmare voyage through the South Atlantic and her struggle across the Indian Ocean portion of the Southern Ocean is nearly over. Soon the 110ft catamaran will be into the Pacific. Here the weather systems are bigger, but this usually makes for a longer more regular swell and it is the swell and the waves which are the determining factor of how fast she can go.
For the last two days Orange has been sailing in much more regular conditions. Today she has a 30 knot westerly, a following sea and the crew have been able to watch the Aurora Australis two nights running. Orange is relishing the conditions, averaging 22 knots and nudging 500 miles per day as she surfs down the big waves. For the Orange crew this is what the Southern Ocean is all about.
"Since our descent of the Atlantic, we haven't ever had conditions like these. And it does one good!" commented skipper Bruno Peyron during the chat session today. "The swell is nicely in rhythm, the wind steady and flirting with 30 knots and the days are not so humid. Everybody is benefiting, from the crew to the beast. Underfoot the boat is slipping along effortlessly with full main (or one reef) and gennaker.
"On deck, the four man watches continue to take it in turns just like on the first day. The helmsman is relieved every half an hour while one crewmate remains behind him just in case. Another is stationed in the cockpit, sheet in hand ready to dump it in an emergency and the fourth man remains on standby under the cuddy out of the spray and the icy wind "that's coming straight out of the fridge" as crewman Yann Eliès describes it.
"It's freezing!" the young Elies said of the conditions today (night was falling at midday GMT today). "We're right on the edge of the Antarctic convergence zone, or at the limit of where we could encounter ice, and the sea temperature is 4°C. The air is no warmer and even if I'm taking full advantage of every minute, it's cold both outside and in!"
After a miserable few days confidence has returned on board as the catamaran is due to pass the islands of Macquarie, Bishop and Clerk located to the south of New Zealand. The big cat is sitting on top of a depression to her south (one that is finally behaving itself) and even better is tracking at roughly the same speed as Orange. This being the case, Orange should be able to 'ride' the low for some distance into the Pacific.
"We just need to orchestrate our gybes well" said Peyron of how he intends to stick with this system "and to get nicely into position for the wind shift from the west to the north-west, that should happen tomorrow. We must think about getting back on course again straight away if we don't want to go down too far south of the Antarctic convergence zone. Today we're already at 54° latitude South".
The moon puts in an appearance