Yesterday evening, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran completed her third racing day having covered 370 nautical miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 15.4 knots.
Slowed by very unstable low wind conditions off Madeira, the crew couldn't have dreamed of doing any better. Salvation came in the shape of a fairly radical western option, "The front was progressing more slowly than forecast, so we had to go and meet it. We had our hearts in our mouths...",
Good work then from Geronimo's weather team, and all praise to the crew for having the nerve to take a risk and route 80° off the direct track. This morning, Geronimo had picked up the first hints of the trade winds and accelerated spectacularly to clock up an average of over 21 knots over the last twelve hours.
At sunrise came a spectacular pre-planned meeting. The powered trimaran Ocean Alchemist had left the Canaries the previous evening to try and film Geronimo on her way south. Following a maxi multihull making over 25 knots in mid-ocean was quite a challenge, but one that will leave the passengers and preparation team members on board with some unforgettable memories. The members of Geronimo's shore team were able to see the fruit of their long months of hard work at full power and just a few metres in front of them - a sight no one has ever seen before.
For many, it was a dream come true. "We've often sailed on Geronimo in training, but to see her like that in the open sea and travelling at nearly 30 knots is a truly incredible sight"
, said one of the sailors on board Ocean Alchemist. Olivier saw it this way: "The light was beautifully yellow; almost tropical. It was the first time that Yves Pouillaude and I had seen Alchemist in action from the sea. We had to applaud her... But, you know… it was still a distraction and it was time that they left!"
Let's hope that pictures taken at these speeds aren't too shaky…
The next few hours should confirm that Geronimo has really found the established trade winds and bring them sustained wind speeds. If the current forecast holds, and the doldrums continue to shrink off to the east, it is possible that the time set by Orange to the Equator may be within reach. "To match Orange's time would be pretty good, given the weather window we took",
concluded the skipper.