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6 July 2005, 03:44 pm
Testing Conditions as Geronimo Charges Towards South East Cape in Tasmania
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WSSRC Record Attempt

The maxi trimaran Geronimo is well into the southern ocean and is dealing with the worst of the conditions she will experience as she circumnavigates Australia in The Challenge. Currently, Geronimo is approximately 600 miles south of Adelaide in South Australia travelling at 20 knots in 30 knots of breeze from the west.
The crew have been at sea for 14 days and have covered approximately 5500 miles of their journey around the country. They are making steady progress towards Maatsuyker Island on the south west coast of Tasmania before they round South East Cape, the last of the official points the boat has to pass in the official route to circumnavigate Australia.

'We have the choice between sailing at 17 knots or 27 knots but not in the middle, as the waves move at around 20 knots. The wind is still 40 knots with gusts above 50 we have to set up sails for the strongest winds. The sea is not beautiful nor pleasant, choppy and unpredictable. We are fed up with it, there is very few occasions to make speed in this,' commented Olivier DE KERSAUSON- on the Globalstar satellite phone which has aided in communications between the boat and shore crew during The Challenge- yesterday as they tracked on a south east course towards Tasmania.

The winds in the southern ocean that Geronimo has encountered, as well as a large seaway up to eight metres high at times, has made the conditions rough and tiring for all onboard. 'The crew are very tired now and we have to double our attention and concentration. We have all the conditions to make mistakes, dark days, cold, exhausted boys, awful sea and strong winds,' remarked DE KERSAUSON, 'Don't worry however, everything is under control and fine on board.' These comments from the Geronimo skipper illustrate just how hard the crew are working and pushing the boat and themselves.

Here's what Olivier DE KERSAUSON had to say about the course around Australia. 'This is a coastal course of some 6,500 miles, and coastal means demanding and intense. It's an exciting thing to circle a continent that does so much to disturb the winds. We couldn't shorten it by getting closer to the coast. If we'd done that, it would have become a game of Poker. We had to stay well offshore where the terrestrial wind mixes with the sea air. It's equivalent to a third of the way around the world, and concentrates all the pitfalls you would meet on a circumnavigation. It's a long way removed from a summer cruise around the coast of Brittany, but it's enthralling. Here, there's something happening all the time.'

'The sea and wind are very strong and the shape of the waves makes it dangerous to try and surf. The Australian French team are working well together; these conditions require you to be vigilant. We are in a hurry to go around Tasmania and head to Sydney to find better temperatures,' said DE KERSAUSON.

'Geronimo has had an area of gale conditions that has moved with the boat on its trip through the southern ocean. It is anticipated that the conditions will be moderating but they have experienced a typical southern ocean crossing for winter. The anticipated southerly surge is still predicted for Friday and Saturday which will give them a great ride up the south east coast from Tasmania to Sydney,' commented Richard WHITTAKER meteorologist from The Weather Channel.

Sam Crichton, Image: Cold and rough as Geronimo crosses the Southern Ocean © Yves Pouillaude
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