06:00 GMT yesterday morning, the Orange II giant was sailing along at 29 knots heading south, and will soon reach the Cape Verde Islands. Since the beginning of the night, a strong vibration is perceptible and keeps amplifying - enough to worry the crew.
At 07:00, Bruno Peyron decided to stop the boat off Santo Antao Island (north-west of Santo Vincente), and sent a crew member for an inspection under the hull. Vladimir DZALBA-LYNDIS, a professional combat diver, went underwater with spotlights and confirmed the origin of the vibration. The fairing that protects the propeller shaft shows a crack, through which water gets in at high speed. The boat's speed generates serious vibrations, and the water pressure threatened to provoke a delamination of the hull. There is no way the crew can carry on racing in such conditions, and after discussion, the decision was taken to try and find a sheltered place to repair the damaged part. At 11:00, Bruno Peyron announced that if at first he thought reaching the Doldrums (Inter-tropical Convergence Zone), he will eventually head towards the volcanic island of Fogo, located south of the Cape Verde archipelago, 90 miles away from Orange II's bows.
Commenting on the problem facing the crew Bruno Peyron reported. "We do not want to go all the way to the Equator like that, because we would risk more severe damage. The boat is not in danger at the moment, the breakage is a minor one, but if we cannot fix the problem ourselves, then it's the end of the race for us. We'll take shelter under the Fogo volcano (14°51 N - 24°30 W) and try to repair from underwater. But what are the odds? And how long will it take? We do not have any answers to give at the moment. We hope to reach Fogo Island before nightfall in order to start working and get a better idea of the chances we have to be back in the race. One thing is for sure, we'll fight till the end, because we have a hard time accepting that our journey can end this way. Unfortunately, we won't know until tomorrow, and meanwhile the clock is ticking"
Full consultation has been sought from the designers and builders, but the task ahead of the crew, in difficult conditions, is still massive, and could spell the end of Orange II's Jules Verne attempt
Last night, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran was just 960 nautical miles from the Equator, after a good day running before the trade winds on a direct track south. Having passed straight between the Canaries, the crew was able to get a good look at the Cape Verde Islands as they sailed through the centre of the group.
In the past 24 hours, Geronimo averaged 18.53 knots to cover 444 nautical miles point-to-point on Day 6 of her Jules Verne Trophy attempt.
The GPS reading at 23:17 GMT on Tuesday March 2 (00:17 Wednesday, French time) on board the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran showed the following position: 09°22'N, 27°54'W.
Having passed the Cape Verde Islands on Tuesday (at 15°S off West Africa near Dakar in Senegal), Geronimo felt the effects of the trade winds begin to fade.
At the time of taking their latest position, the Cap Gemini crew were recording 17 knots of wind at best. The Doldrums seem to be spreading extremely wide and are now likely to compromise the trimaran's performance considerably.
In an attempt to minimise the effects of this uncontrollable area of weather, Olivier de Kersauson has clearly decided to route much further west, since Geronimo was heading 3_ degrees further east yesterday morning than she is today.
Positions - Day Five
15°48N - 24°04W
487 nautical miles in 24 hours, at an average speed of 20.27 knots.
Distance to the Equator: 950 nautical miles
14°21N - 26°22W
466.85 nautical miles in 24 hours, at an average speed of 19.45 knots
Distance to the Equator: 864 nautical miles
16°41N - 25°41W
530 nautical miles in 24 hours, at an average speed of 22.07 knots
Distance to the Equator: 1,002 nautical miles