Hanging in there

A volatile weather forecast makes for uncertain ETA for Orange's finish

Friday May 3rd 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: Transoceanic
Day 62 - 0800 GMT, 3 May 2002

Orange position: 45deg 50N 28deg 25W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 435.67nm
Distance to finish 961nm

Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 10deg 19N 29deg 56W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 190.8nm

Orange is 2,033 nm further down the track than Sport Elec

"It does one good to see the GPS with three figures now..." said Sébastien Josse during today's radio chat session with Orange. This morning at 0800 the maxi-catamaran had 960 nautical miles to go and her heading was 062° or NE. Orange's crew can almost smell Brittany!

Orange was only finally able to make her last gybe and head for the finish line at 1800 yesterday evening. Although for the next 24 hours they should be eating up the miles, it will not be plain sailing to the finish line between Creac'h light on the island of Ushant and Lizard Point. At present Orange is making 23-28 knots under full main and medium gennaker.

"While everything is fairly clear until Saturday evening, the weather models suggest a possible blockage about 80 miles from the finish..." said Bruno Peyron. The latest official ETA is Sunday afternoon.

"Our rhythm of life remains very constant" continued Peyron. "There is no haste, no impatience. Everybody remains very focused and at the same time there is a sort of detachment. There's mixed feelings between serenity and an urge to be back".

While the crew contemplate their final hours and last nights at sea of this historic record, there is still concern on boar for titanium ball at the mast foot. "I'm touching wood", commented Gilles Chiorri,

French records expert Christian Fevrier gives us his thoughts on what will happen: "Even over the next 48 hours, it is always quite difficult to predict what shape the high pressure system will have. During the night from Saturday to Sunday, the Azores high (1024 isobar) is pushing up to around the level of mid-Ireland and southward along the 10degW meridian. This means that between the 10 West and the 5.08 West (Ushant) the wind will be very light and unpredictable.

"In a worst case scenario, it could be a long wait. Right now, there is a 50% possibility to not see the boat before Sunday evening or Sunday night".

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