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29 March 2004, 05:18 pm
Next Stop Cape Horn For Geronimo
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Jules Verne Trophy
Round The World

At 23:18 GMT on Sunday 28 March, the end of her 32nd day, Geronimo was 3,544 nautical miles from Cape Horn. On the equivalent day of her 2002 voyage, Orange still had 4,567 nautical miles to go before reaching the last of the 3 capes.
From this point of view, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran is therefore 1,023 nautical miles ahead of the record set by Bruno Peyron and his crew.

Here is the first of a three-part transcription of the radio interview conducted at 13:00 GMT today (Monday 29 March) from the Club Geronimo in Paris. Olivier de Kersauson spoke frankly about the merciless conditions faced by the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric crew for at least the last three days on the edge of the South Pacific.

Q. Hello from the Club Geronimo. I know you don't have much time and that conditions are appalling as you enter the Pacific, but everyone is keen to hear your latest news about the crew and the boat. 448 miles in such a shaker - it must be terrible!

Olivier de Kersauson: "Yes, we've not been racing for 2 or 3 days - it's more a matter of survival. What we have is an amazingly harsh southern sea. The wind isn't south-westerly, it's coming from 210-215, right across our track. It makes for a dangerous beam sea that's hard to cope with. We're ending up surfing. We're having to under-canvas to get through it; even so, we're accelerating at 25 to 35 knots through waves. It's treacherous. It's tiring and it's beginning to have its effects on everyone. Added to which we're not making good progress. We're not making good progress at all".

Q. How is the crew holding up? They must be exhausted by these conditions?

Olivier de Kersauson: "They're beginning to get tired in every possible way. We should be out of it tomorrow, but it all takes time. It's impossible to sleep below decks, and above decks things are really wild. We're bloody fed up with it because the route is effectively barred to us. We can't go south, we can't do anything. We have to stay put at our current latitude; we've already gone a fair way north. We were down around 53 or 54, but we've had to come back to 50, 49 or even 48, because these depressions are a very long way north and extremely active. We're trying to edge back a little further south at the moment. When you look forward over the next 3 or 4 days, you can't see how we could get much further south. But even if we can't go quickly through this massacre, we are at least making real progress eastwards. We're even asking ourselves whether we'll be able to get as far south as the Horn. At the moment, we have polar winds, air coming up from 60° south, icy air, very dense and the same goes for the sea. The sea's not very high - 7-metre waves - but it's incredibly powerful. The other night, we were surfing under mast alone. At 27 knots, it's wholesale slaughter. This has nothing to do with competition - it's all about athletic survival".

Q. And what about the boat, is Geronimo in good shape? Has anything broken on board?

Olivier de Kersauson: "Nothing's busted - either because the boat's so well made or because it's a miracle. You can't stay in seas like this for too long. Something's bound to get broken sooner rather than later. We could suffer serious damage at any moment. But thankfully conditions are forecast to improve over the next 12 hours. We don't know what we'll be able to do or not do. We're really stuck. It's as if the door to the Horn is closing on us. We're looking at it from every angle. It's winter now. I've been through these waters many times, but I've never been attacked this way - occasionally perhaps, but never for as long as this by a sea from the south which is very, very heavy".

Geronimo's full position, and the rest of the transcript of the interview with skipper Olivier de KERSAUSON, is available on Geronimo's website at the address below.
Geronimo Media (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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