Fully powered up again, the maxi cat is speeding ahead but the pressure’s been telling

Orange has at last broken free of the Doldrums and, according to crewman Nick Moloney, is ‘stonking south at around 25-27 knots’ in the south-east Trades. In the last 24 hours, the crew have put more than 530 miles behind them, but they are still being harried by squalls which are raising confused seas. Later today they are due to cross the same latitude as the Volvo boats, heading north as they dip south. The VOR fleet are also being blasted by big squalls.

Fully powered up again, Orange has been back under pressure. Last night that told when the mainsheet block padeye broke away with a bang. A repair was made by drilling into the main beam and making a lashing to the block. There are several other padeyes of the same make on board, notably for the backstay and sheet blocks and the crew have been securing them with the same treatment, drilling directly into the structure of boat and adding lashings.

The problem with padeyes dates from The Race. Afterwards, a modified type of padeye was made which had seemed satisfactory. Navigator Gilles Chiorri admitted today that it was “a worrying problem we have to solve, but it’s not a major issue. It doesn’t have any consequence on the boat’s performance.”

With her new burst of speed, Orange has been fleeing before Olivier de Kersauson’s Jules Verne record and is now more than 1,400 miles ahead at the same stage. With this in mind, skipper Bruno Peyron is continuing to be moderately cautious. Checks of fittings and deck equipment are carried out every four hours and when weather allows a crewman is sent aloft to check the rig.

“We’re ready for the deep south,” he reported. “In two days we’ll be starting serious business. We’ll have to be careful and go about it reasonably? We are all getting ready.”