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20 February 2005, 09:15 am
Racing Against A Flock Of Crazy Birds
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Orange II
Southern Ocean

Exactly on the fiftieth parallel! Bruno PEYRON's maxi cat has been achieving an average speed of 26 knots since Friday, clocking up 640 miles over the past 24 hours on a fine, straight course. Orange II is sticking on the separation line between the Roaring Forties and the Howling Fifties. Peyron explained yesterday that the conditions were perfect to go on the attack.
It will be the third since the start. In any case, they had little choice in the matter. The winds dictate the strategy and his machine has what it takes to fulfil the requirements. Astern of the giant's two orange hulls, the storm is raging with winds in excess of 70 knots and 13-m high waves. Ahead, they are having to glide along, as the skipper (Peyron) and navigator (Nilson) would like to stick with this flow all the way to The Horn. Yet another challenge for the wind-making machine. So they're going on the attack. The third as Bruno explained to us last night.

The first was decisive during the first leg of the voyage. We missed out on the second, which was quickly over, because of the rough, dangerous seas in the Indian Ocean, which lived up to its reputation. The third began during the night to the south of New Zealand, as we had been planning for three days.

We put the men and the machine back into aggressive mode. If there was a time to go on the attack, it is now. Everything has been checked, the structure, rigging, sails etc. ... it's as if it was brand new… So we're giving it a try... Let's go!

For the initiated: It is not easy to find the right trajectory. Ahead of us, there are 50-knot winds and behind…a sort of monster with 70-75 knot winds. We must not make a mistake here, as we're going to have to squeeze our way between the two for almost 4 days.

We're sailing with one reef in the mainsail, the medium gennaker, at 140° from the wind achieving 30-33 knots. We're therefore at the maximum limit for these sails, but not going beyond it. We carried out a minor adjustment to the leeward daggerboard to give it more grip... and the punishment was immediate. The boat flew up 30 seconds after the change. Too much daggerboard? Back to the previous setting. It was a warning, but didn't cost us anything. Someone has to be on the sheets all the time! It can't be left to the self-tailing winch.

A little moment of calm in this world of violence? Yes... There have been two to be precise. Firstly, an amazing sunrise, as we made our way into the real Pacific. And then some new friends this morning - a group of albatrosses with wonderful plumage. It wasn't just one solitary bird or a few couples, but a flock of crazy birds, passing riders, probably intrigued by the speed of this new bird passing by them.

Racing against a flock of crazy birds! We're still ahead... as they're still behind us. It's quite logical really, isn't it?'

Orange II Media (As Amended by ISAF)
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