Olivier de Kersauson and team aboard 110ft trimaran Geronimo takes on the Southern Ocean and heads for Tasmania on round Australia record attempt
Exactly 12 days, 3 hours and 1 minute after crossing the start line of The Challenge (circumnavigation record attempt of Australia for the sydneyaustralia.com trophy) off the Sydney Opera House, the Capgemini and Schneider Electric trimaran Geronimo has covered more the two thirds of her 6,500-mile journey and is approximately 200 nautical miles south of Albany on the south-west coast of Western Australia.
Geronimo has had a couple of testing days as she made her way down Australia’s west coast; she is now into the challenging waters of the Southern Ocean. A number of areas of lighter wind had the team a little concerned as they battled to meet the weather front that would make their trip from Cape Leeuwin to the southern tip of Tasmania a fast one.
Olivier de Kersauson chatting this morning as the maxi multihull headed across the Great Australian Bight towards Tasmania, said: “While I’m talking to you, we have three reefs and trinquette and sail at 27, now 29, no 31 knots, too fast… ok it is better now at 25 knots. We must be conservative because the wind reaches 60 knots in the squalls sometimes and the crew have begun to be little tired.
“Only the most experienced take the helm as the speed in the waves need huge concentration and big experience. We are so far from Queensland, and I dream about the quiet waters of Sydney Harbour. Nothing to see with the week long gale we suffered in south Pacific last year (up to 80 knots before the Cape Horn). These strong conditions are not dangerous, just very strong. We try to make a good benchmark for the Challenge, it is worth some stress, humidity and big winter weather. That is part of this exceptional path around Australia.”
After the race to get in front of the weather system, travelling across the same path they have to take to travel across the Great Australian Bite to round South East Cape in Tasmania, Geronimo is now flying through the colder waters as she really heads down under. Kersauson added: “If we can get to Cape Leeuwin before the cold front arrives, we will have a very fast end, maybe an arrival in front of Sydney Opera on the 8 July. From the start this has been a magnificent sail. This round Australia path is just the most beautiful complete voyage we have ever made for my crew and I, much more interesting and demanding than the ‘Round Britain’, and much more beautiful than any other passage.”
As Geronimo travelled down the Western Australian coast past Perth and Fremantle she was sailing approximately 200 miles off the coast in order to lay a course for Cape Leeuwin. “Within the same gust we can feel on our face the cold and the warm air together. The progress is painful in a hard and choppy sea. Nice test for the crossbeam repair. We have had to perform numerous manoeuvres. Wind shifts from 10-20 degrees and the helm is difficult. Geronimo suffers in the black night but the progress in the night is still fast. Outside foul weather gears and harnesses, inside it’s impossible to sleep in this shaker. The wind is 30 degrees sharper than the forecast has,” remarked de Kersauson last night as they sailed at approximately 18 knots in a 40 knot breeze from the west sou’west.
Over the last 24 hours the French Australian crew has pulled out all the stops to place themselves in the optimum position for their passage to Tasmania and Maatsuyker Island and the southern tip of Tasmania. The crew have approximately 1,400 miles to travel across the Great Australian Bight and the bottom of the country before she makes her last turn on the home stretch to the finish line off the Opera House in Sydney Harbour.
If Geronimo can maintain her current speeds she will set a record for a 6,500-mile journey of less than 20 days, a fantastic achievement by anyone’s standards. The Challenge shore crew are making preparations for Geronimo’s arrival in Sydney Harbour later this week.