Geronimo is slightly ahead of Orange II, and Cheyenne is well ahead of the round the world speed record after 24 days at sea
Bruno Peyron’s Orange maxi-catamaran covered more than 500 miles over the past 24 hours; her best performance since the start five days ago. She notched up a total of 502.2 miles at 20.9 knots of average speed for the fourth day at sea. However, despite her speedy efforts, challenge rival, Geronimo is still slightly ahead at a position of 15°48,24°6W compared with Orange who’s currently at 16 41.44′ N, 25 41.48′ W. Having finally ‘hooked up’ with the much-awaited trade winds Geronimo covered 486.56 nm averaging 20.27 kts of boat speed in the last 24 hours.
Bruno Peyron and his crew of 14 are now between the Canary and the Cape Verde Islands having dealt with the trap of the high-pressure zone by sliding along the Moroccan coast before sneaking between Lanzarote (Canary) and the coast of Mauritania. Bruno Peyron commented: “True, this route is not what one would call academic, yet it was justified by the position of the high. Now we’re back in the west, and we’ve just done 20 straight hours at 21kts of average speed. We’re currently sailing in 20kts of north-easterly wind, with gusts at 25. We now have to take a look at how to manage the passage of Cape Verde, and tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at the Doldrums.”
Sébastien Audigane, crewman-helmsman aboard Orange II said: “It’s been a great pleasure to do at least 20kts, with peaks around 28-29. The boat slides gently, the manoeuvres are smoother and smoother. It looks like we’re at home now.”
Peyron continued: “The sea is rather predictable, and we sent up all the canvas the boat can hold ? which means we’re under full main and gennaker (1,100sq m). There’s no way we can hoist more sail surface. We had to take everything down during the night – we felt a slight impact, which caused the boat to stop quite sensibly. We checked around and discovered we had hit a big shark, maybe two or three metres long!”
According to team Orange, the forecast is for the wind to shift progressively to the west as they head for the Cape Verde Islands passage.
Talking about Orange II’s position in relation to Geronimo, Peyron said: “Geronimo’s position is very interesting, because obviously we don’t have the same analysis. We chose to sail to the west right now. Sailing down the Moroccan coast pays off at first, but afterwards it’s difficult to regain good positioning. Maybe we’re wrong, but we made our choice. It will become tighter and tighter. For the moment, we still have a big difference in terms of longitude but we know we’ll cross the Equator with 60 to 100 miles of difference, at the most.”
On board Geronimo, the crew are aware that the number of sea miles covered so far, now five days into the challenge, is not spectacular but they believe their progress towards the Equator is regular and very fast. Talking about the tactical situation, Olivier de Kersauson commented: “We don’t want to keep on moving west. Because the Doldrums are not clearly established to the east, there is no longer any reason to go for the longitude option to cross the Equator. Heading dead south, Geronimo is making very reasonable progress in the right direction. We’re occasionally hitting 30kts, but not all the time. Racing before the wind at these speeds beneath the moon on a silver sea is absolutely wonderful – really something!”
Geronimo’s aim is to get back up to record-beating time as quickly as possible and take the shortest possible route through the Intertropical Convergence Zone.
Further along the racetrack, Steve Fossett and his team aboard the 125ft catamaran Cheyenne, are continuing to clock up the miles and are currently 1,206 miles ahead of the world speed record after 24 days at sea. At 0500 this morning they were 1,600nm south-west of Fremantle, Western Australia and reporting 24kts of boat speed. Yesterday they notched up 406 miles, averaging 16.9 kts despite yesterday afternoon’s light breeze. Looking at the weather and tactics for the next few days, Adrienne Cahalan (navigator) said: “Our current forecast suggests that we should get east as fast as we can to stay ahead of an approaching cold front coming quickly behind us. If we can stay ahead of the front and stay on the ‘money gybe’ in north-west winds, it is all good miles in the bank. We call it the ‘money gybe’ when we cash in miles at top speed straight at the mark.”
Geronimo (Cap Gemini/Schneider Electric)22°17N – 18°58W
438 nautical miles in 24 hours, at an average speed of 18.25 knots
Distance to the Equator1,382 nautical miles
Orange II24°28N – 21°14W
503 nautical miles in 24 hours, at an average speed of 20.94 knots
Distance to the Equator1,484 nautical miles
Position Report Geronimo51 22.700 S – 90 33.430 E
Distance to finish12,579.93 nm