3 days ahead

De Kersauson and his crew continue to rocket across the Southern Ocean - but there is trouble ahead

Sunday February 2nd 2003, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 22 Position 24hr distance Av speed
Geronimo 50°20S 68°50E 463 19,30
Orange 40°40S 47°06E 396 16,52

At 15:00 GMT today (16:00 French time) 50°16S, 75°56E
Distance travelled in 12 hours: 272 nautical miles.
Average speed over the last 12 hours: 22.67 knots


After just over three weeks at sea Geronimo, Olivier de Kersauson's Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric-sponsored maxi trimaran is well on track for demolishing Orange's record. Of course the big tri is not even half way round yet, she's new and could easily sustain damage, but the pace she is setting is incredible.

When Bruno Peyron and his crew set the present Jules Verne Trophy record of 64 days 8 hours 37 minutes and 24 seconds on board Orange last year they took more than a week off the previous record that Olivier de Kersauson had set on his old trimaran Sport Elec in 1997. Admittedly it was the first occasion that one of the new generation of G-class multihulls had attempted the record.

Just over three weeks into their attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy, Geronimo is around 1,300 miles further down the track than Orange was over a similar period - a rather handy margin by anyone's reckoning. In rough terms Geronimo is sailing in 6 days what Orange sailed in 7. If they can continue at this pace - which the odds are unlikely that they will - then at present they are on track for an incredible 55 day circumnavigation. Jules Verne - eat your heart out...

Over the last 24 hours Geronimo has passed south of the Kerguelen Islands, and has entered the Furious 50s. She is continuing to head in a considerably more southerly course than Orange took, but on a remarkably similar track to the one de Kersauson sailed on board Sport Elec. Maybe like Mike Quilter de Kersauson has a route for sailing around the world which he likes to stick to?

“The seas in this part of the Southern Ocean are fearsome and any hope of rescue is just a fantasy. This is a place of total isolation: an immense desert of savage waves of biblical proportions”, de Kersauson said today about moving south of the 50th parallel.

The water temperature has fallen to 4°C and the air temperature to 3°C. The wind has been fairly stable since the beginning of the day at around 30 knots.

However there are dangerous times ahead. At present there is a depression directly to the south of Cape Leeuwin (the southwestern most tip of Australia) that is very slowly moving south. Forecast charts show that the depression de Kersauson is merrily riding at present will collide with this low - a 'perfect storm' scenario - causing an almighty tightening of the isobars with the depression centres dropping to an ear-poppingly low 968mB. It happens to be in much the same sea area where Tony Bullimore, Thierry Dubois and Raphael Dinelli's Open 60s came acropper in the 1996/7 Vendee Globe.

The wind flag chart below is for 1800 GMT Tuesday, centred at 47.45S 110.25E (if Geronimo continues at her current speed and heading she should be at around 100degE by this time.

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