Relief as Géronimo leaves the Indian Ocean for the Pacific 'a world full of happy memories for me', says Géronimo's normally hard-bitten skipper


In the 24 hours to 0300 GMT today, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran Géronimo covered 504 nautical miles at an average speed of 21.04 knots. As Olivier de Kersauson predicted in yesterday’s radio bulletin, Geronimo entered the Howling Fifties early this morning.

The trimaran then passed south of Campbell Island, a small outpost in the Southern Ocean, south east of New Zealand, between the Antarctic and sub-tropical convergences. The Indian Ocean is now just a memory and its hostile seas and leaden skies forgotten as everyone looks forward to the beauty of the Pacific.

“I really love this ocean and I’ve done a lot of sailing here,” commented de Kersauson. “When we were on PenDuick IV with Eric Tabarly, we travelled every part of the Pacific, from the American West Coast to Australia. It’s a world full of happy memories and real emotion. There’s something about this place that has a real effect on me. In the Pacific, there’s none of the raw violence and unremitting ugliness of the Indian Ocean. Of course, the weather can be violent here too, but it still retains a kind of elegance.”

Watch leader Didier Ragot also feels a sense of relief on leaving the Indian Ocean behind. “The last few hours there were particularly terrible. None of us has ever seen the Indian Ocean quite like that. The boat took a bit of a pounding and so did the crew; I’m sure that any other boat would have been in real trouble.

“Although the winters here are pretty difficult to handle, we were taken rather by surprise at this time of year. But you have to do the best you can. And there were quite a few surprises for those of us at the helm; you’d be trying to negotiate a breaking wave and suddenly there’d be another one coming out of nowhere and all hell would break loose. It was a bit stressful at times. The sea is much more predictable now and we’re beginning to get some great sailing!

“Naturally, we’re beginning to feel fatigue set in, and the cold doesn’t help. It freezes your hands, which means that manoeuvres take a bit longer, but that’s OK. As far as the boat is concerned, the only surprises we’ve had have been good ones. Everything we’ve found out about the trimaran has been positive. It’s a fantastic experience!”.