Oliver de KERSAUSON's giant 34 metre (111 feet) trimaran Geronimo, racing round Australia is this morning battling to reach Cape Leeuwin, the southwestern tip of Western Australia, ahead of a deepening front.
Last night she was sailing down the coast in a light six knot easterly but in the last six hours she's been battling to get south as fast as possible, ahead of the strengthening sea conditions.
At 10am this morning, 200 miles west of Perth, Geronimo
was sailing with reduced sail area, reefed down, doing 18.3 knots across the building seaway with winds of 35-40 knots blasting out of the Southern Ocean.
The Weather Channel's Richard Whitaker is expecting heavier conditions over the next five or six hours until the giant multihull is free to run 1,560 miles south east towards Maatsuyker Island, the southern tip of Tasmania, before she turns north towards Sydney.
'Its blowing 40-45 knots at Cape Leeuwin now, so its a race within a race,'
Project director Rob STIRLING explained.
'If the winds become too strong then Geronimo will have to slow down to survival mode. If she has to do that she may miss the front. If she is able to stay on pace then she can ride the front all the way to the bottom of Tasmania.
'The guys are ready for a big 24 hours. This morning it was a big breakfast of croissants and scrambled eggs all round. French fuel for the fight ahead.'
ETA back in Sydney is still July 9th, 17 days around Australia.