Apples and Oranges

After a sticky few days, Bruno Peyron's maxi cat is now back to covering 500+ mile days

Monday April 22nd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 51 - 0800 GMT, 22 April 2002

Orange position: 18deg 16S 18deg 49 W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 520.39nm

Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 36deg 45S 41deg 07W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 357.9nm

Orange is 1,223 nm further down the track than Sport Elec

After their risky investment, heading north east across the South Atlantic's St Helena high pressure system Orange is now out the other side and into the south easterly Trades and once again packing in the miles.

This morning Orange had in the order of 1,150 nautical miles to go to the Equator and was still 3-4 days ahead of Sport Elec's recording breaking passage of 1997. Yesterday she notched up another 500+ mile day at an average of 23 knots and should do similar tomorrow. "We're in the right place with the right wind and the right sea," commented skipper Bruno Peyron. "We're reaping the dividends of our long investment to the east. Since our left turn yesterday, we're really shifting, almost 30 knots last night, under full main and solent on starboard tack at an excellent wind angle."

However from Wednesday the wind will fade away as the 110ft cat tackles the Doldrums. Orange will begin to feel the effects of this on Wednesday morning, but big cats such as Orange have an unusual ability to create their own wind and unless they get the crossing drastically wrong the Doldrums should not hold them up too much.

By sailing through the South Atlantic high pressure system and approaching the Doldrums more directly from the south Peyron in theory has more options to find a path across this band of notoriously fickle winds. In today's radio chat with the boat on board meteorologist Gilles Chiorri explained their strategy. "The gateway would seem to be located at between longitude 22 or 23° west" he said.

Orange's present pace is in stark contrast to their progression at the end of last week. In today's radio chat Peyron shed a little more light on his bizarre track north east across the South Atlantic (almost as unusual as their outbound track through his area), a route which increased the distance to the finish of Ouessant by 23%. The reason was to avoid a giant low pressure system that was tracking east from Argentina.

"We're satisfied for several reasons: by avoiding beating against the worst of the low, we were still able to maintain our progress in terms of latitude in similar proportions to those of our 'sister ships' in The Race which last year had to tack at reduced speed up the Brazilian coast," .Peyron explained, adding that avoiding the low had prevented them beating upwind with the prospect of damaging the boat. It should be remembered that it was a similar depression in the South Atlantic that caused the crossbeam damage to Club Med during The Race.

"As soon as we rounded the Horn, we had to take a long term view, because ahead of us the situation looked hopeless. Taking the direct route, that's to say the one usually taken by sailors up the South American coast, was taking big risks for the boat, without the certitude of consequential gains on our score card. We're happy to have entered the trades without breaking anything," he said.

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