Progress is halting and the mood on board is downbeat

Progress is still halting for the crew of Orange, as the wind settles and decreases. They are nearing the notorious Kerguelen Islands, where a deep low lies to the north-west, but it is beginning to look as if they will be able to loose themselves from the stranglehold of weather in four or five days’ time.

Skipper Bruno Peyron yesterday sounded unhappy at their progress, however. They are reaching in a ‘hard’ leftover sea, and he is frustrated that they have followed three very tough days of upwind sailing with one almost parked.

He and his navigator, Gilles Chiorri, have been consoling themselves with the thought that, statistically, they ought to have better conditions for the remainder of the circumnavigation, but the mood is still downbeat. “Everything is all right on board, sure, but the rest is not,” said Peyron. “This circumnavigation is tiring. It’s nothing like what I’ve known before in 93, 94 and 97 and has nothing in common with The Race.”

Orange is still well ahead of the Jules Verne record last set by Olivier de Kersauson. But the crew have to consider that the properly competitive time, that of Club Med’s in The Race, is day by day vanishing ahead of them.

It was not part of their plan to wind the boat up for record daily runs, but every day of slow progress will put greater pressure on them. Further days of below average speeds mean that decisions about how and when to snug the boat down are only going to get more difficult.