Heading for the High
Day 57 - 0800 GMT, 28 April 2002
Orange position: 13deg 60N 30deg 48W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 302.65nm
Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 11deg 32S 30deg 25W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 378.37nm
Orange is 1,510 nm further down the track than Sport Elec
Orange is continuing on her starboard tack fetch north in the north easterly Trades in an attempt to circle the Azores high pressure system clockwise.
Fortunately while the high pressure system is looking quite dispiritate at present with centres from 30degN 60degW to 40degN 30degW, two large depressions due to sweep across the north Atlantic this week should knock it back into shape and this will hopefully allow skipper Bruno Peyron and his crew to carry out their masterplan and ride the following winds around the high in order to cut the finish line sometime early on next week.
Assuming that the Trades maintain their regularity and that Orange continues to cover 300 miles per day they should start to see the wind veering to the south east on Thursday afternoon. By this time they should be at around 37degW 37degN (on the south western corner of the high), although it is possible skipper Bruno Peyron may try to cut the corner to save miles. "We haven't ruled out sailing through the middle of the Azores" confirmed Peyron during today's radio chat. "But we've got three difficult days ahead of us and even if we're on a good course at the moment, it's not out of the question that we'll be doing a little westing to spare the boat. But it's true that we're managing a shorter route than expected!"
Once around to the north of the Azores high they should be in for a rollercoaster ride home to the finish, although for the sake of their mast
"We're on a good course at the moment, it's the same as Olivier de Kersauson's in 1997", explained on board meteorologist Gilles Chiorri. "Several days ago I was saying that the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy sailed a good course and I didn't imagine that we would be able to do the same. But the Trades are not too strong, meaning that we can sail a heading of 345°. This trade wind should be strengthening tonight to 20 knots and we'll have to be careful. But in the next 36 hours, it should shift more to the east, which will enable us to reach a point that we've fixed ourselves to the south-west of the Azores where we'll tack ".
Meanwhile on deck it is the helms' job to ensure that Orange cuts the sweetest path through the waves without causing the 110ft catamaran to slam as every shock wave through the carbon fibre structure ends up being felt and magnified at the mast step. "But it's true that we're sailing a little more serenely" concluded Gilles. "We know that the cracked ball is still there and that anything can happen yet. But we've done all that's possible: we've solved the greasing problems with the mast ball and we've reinforced it. We're sailing a little less stressed and we're a little less sensitive to the slightest noise on board...".
See page two for Nick Moloney's on board account...