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25 June 2005, 09:03 am
Geronimo Eats Up The Miles
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WSSRC Record Attempt

Three days after crossing the start line for The Challenge in Sydney, Geronimo is eating up the miles in her race to circumnavigate Australia. As the maxi multihull has made her way up the New South Wales and Queensland coast she has covered over 1200 nautical miles and sailed through a variety of weather conditions which has challenged the 12 man crew from France and Australia.
Now located off Cooktown on the Northern Queensland coast approximately 360 miles out to sea, Geronimo has approximately 540 nautical miles to go before entering the testing waters of Torres Strait as she rounds Australia's northern most point at Cape York. Once she is passed this point she will enter waters that are historically known to be difficult due to light and fickle conditions along with a mine field of small islands and adverse currents. 'My big concern is this Torres Strait with such a big multihull. Geronimo is exactly the kind of boat which has not been designed to zigzag between the coral reefs with 7 knots of tide-current' said skipper Olivier de KERSAUSON.

At this stage the latest weather predictions appear to have favourable trade winds for her passage through these challenging waters. The crew anticipate rounding Cape York in the next 24 hours and currently have the breeze coming from a southerly direction at 25 knots. 'We are sailing with a gennaker and one reef in the main' commented Australian crew member Chris STIRLING earlier this morning.'It is so different from offshore racing, not to mention the colours and the odours. It is much more demanding and stressful, but very exciting. We have not done too badly since the start, with not such good winds. We are in the trades now and everything is getting back in order' commented de Kersauson earlier today. 'The first two days were very demanding for the crew - choppy seas, shifty winds with variations of up to 10 knots within the minute. They have rested a little since we have reached the trade winds'.

The Australian crew members are getting to experience first hand the thrills and speeds that can occur when racing large multihull boats. Geronimo has averaged approximately16 knots boat speed during her run up the coast and has reached top speeds so far of over 26 knots. 'The Aussies are alright, but I am afraid that they find us and the boat very rough and bizarre, sometimes I think that we are alien yachtsmen for them' laughed de Kersauson.

If Geronimo can maintain her current speeds on the race around the country she will be back in Sydney Harbour in less than 20 days which will be an exceptional record and one for other multi hulls to try and better.

As the boat heads across the top of Australia weather forecaster Richard WHITTAKER from The Weather Channel has predicted 'that the boat will travel across the top of Australia with the trade winds and then there is a 50/50 chance they will experience favourable winds on the trip down the North Western section of the course on the Western Australian coast'.

'We have to learn how the race a multihull, which is very different to a monohull and learn another language which can be a challenge' remarked Australian crew member Paul MONTAGUE.

The Geronimo crew are sailing in waters well known to French sailors who have travelled through waters over the centuries trading in the area. Having passed Tregrosse Island, which means very fat in French, the French and Australian crew are now onto freeze dried food rations having consumed all the fresh produce on their way up the eastern coast.

Karen Griffin (As Amended by ISAF), Image: Geronimo heads north ©
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