Tomorrow the Equator
Day 52 - 0808 GMT, 23 April 2002
Orange position: 09deg 39S 21deg 29 W
Distance covered in last 24 hours: 539.27nm
Compared to Sport Elec record in 1997
Position: 33deg 26S 40deg 00W
Distance covered in 24 hour period: 206nm
Orange is 1,665 nm further down the track than Sport Elec
Orange has been cranking out the miles over the last day with 24 hours runs of 539.27 miles up until 0800 this morning increasing to 560 miles over the 24 hour period up until lunchtime today - her best during their voyage non-stop around the planet. She is blazing ahead on a course just west of due north in the ESE Trade Winds.
"Our performance since Australia is satisfying" admitted Bruno Peyron. "I had to know when it was the right moment to attack and when we needed to spare the machine. Our references are those of our predecessors from The Race of last year. We knew that by sailing just under their performances we would be within the Jules Verne time. And yet, to the Equator our performance is as good as those of Club Med or Innovation Explorer."
While Orange is making good progress at the moment, her blistering pace will drop off as she attempts to pass through the Doldrums. The average wind speed in this area at present is around 10 knots.
If Peyron gets it right then the amount of downtime should be minimal. "In the end, our jaunt to the east looks like turning out to be positive for crossing the Doldrums. More to the west and we would have been caught out having to beat up the coast of Brazil. For the last 48 hours we have had the chance of being able to choose our passage point, to the east or to the west. It will be to the east at around 23 or 24° longitude west. We will then ease the sails and bear away to avoid close hauling and gain latitude as quickly as possible."
On board the temperature is still rising as the crew head for the Equator although the high apparent wind fans them. "At night, it gets a bit damp" described Gilles Chiorri today. "So we stick to oilies and boots, but during the day it's too hot, and the helmsmen resort to extreme methods of defence: sunglasses, hat and sun block!"
Peyron meanwhile is continuing the conservative approach which has served him so well to date. "I prefer covering 200 miles at 20 knots than 100 at 10 knots upwind," he said.
See page two for today's report from crewman Nick Moloney