Bruno Peyron's team aboard Orange II are heading east looking for wind during the second day of their Jules Verne Challenge
Orange II has covered 463,6 miles, at 19,3 knots of average speed during the second day at sea. For the average cruising enthusiasts, this performance remains a dream, yet Orange II is clearly under her speed potential, currently sailing off the coast of Morocco. This due to a high pressure zone stretching from the north to the south, over the Madeira archipelago. Of course, it’s impossible to cut through it, or to sail around it to the west. So Orange II is heading towards the south-east, in order to try and catch some wind along the North-African coast. During today’s radio chat session Peyron said: “One cannot say we’re having a quick Atlantic descent until now. We have 8-12 knots of wind, and the sail choice is tricky. Anyway, there’s no other possibility, we have to go catch some wind towards the shore. Heading towards the west would be ‘suicidal’.”
High pressure zones mean sunshine and high temperatures, but also light and capricious winds. The high blocking Orange’s path forces the crew to sail to the south-east, towards the Moroccan coast. Peyron continued: “We ran into the light airs we knew we’d have to cope with, and now we’re trying to make progress towards the south-east, one gybe after another. Our main objective is to get out of here as soon as possible, otherwise it could cost us a lot. This high has moved towards the east faster than we expected, so now we have to go and find where the wind is.” Orange is now struggling to make the most of 10kt winds, which will progressively shift to the north then to the north-east, when reaching the Moroccan coast. Peyron added: “At the end of the day, we should encounter 12-15 knots of breeze, which will force us to stay not too far away from the shore. But the weather charts are clear: that’s where the wind will show up. So we can’t do anything but go where it blows.”
This of course implies that frequent manoeuvres and various sail changes are on today’s menu for Orange II. It is in fact medium to light conditions which are most demanding for the crew. The slightest shift, the smallest burst have to be used, and that means a lot of sail trimming and / or changes. Each mile gained is important, so everyone has to be ready to react at all times. For the coming hours, the objective is clear: Orange II has to reach the latitude of Essaouira (Morocco) as soon as possible, since that’s where the wind is expected to pick up. Then, it will be time to slide along the south Moroccan coast, towards Mauritania, and wait patiently for the Trades to show up, supposedly around the Canary Islands. At 1300 today, Orange II was 200 miles west of Rabat (Morocco), and 300 miles away from Lanzarote (Canaria). The maxi-catamaran is 300 miles away (laterally-wise) from Orange’s route in 2002. And if Madeira had been left to port two years ago, Orange II is currently leaving the Portuguese archipelago to starboard.