Geronimo crossed the Equator at 15:26:30 yesterday afternoon (French time), 1 day, 10 hours and 34 minutes ahead of the time set by the current Jules Verne Trophy holder, Orange.
The decision to embark on this new record attempt was prompted by a promising weather window, and at dawn last Saturday, Geronimo found a promising time slot that has lived up to all the expectations of the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric crew.
In covering an average of over 500 nautical miles (point-to-point) every 24 hours on the southward leg through the North Atlantic, and entering the Southern Hemisphere after 6 days, 11 hours, 26 minutes and 21 seconds (an average speed of 21 knots), not only has Geronimo beaten the time set by Orange last year (7 days, 22 hours), but she has also shattered the record set by Peter Blake with Enza on 23 January 1994 (7 days, 4 hours, 24 seconds).
"We are delighted to have had such a wonderful run up to now. This is a complex part of the course and one where it is possible to lose a lot of time. From the sailing point of view, it hasn't been too tiring, but defining our strategy and analysing the weather involve a great deal of work. I haven't had a lot of rest in the past few days…",
says the captain of the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric crew. "This is a symbolic moment for us as we cross the line from North to South and it's the result of a joint effort in which the commitment and application shown by everyone has been totally rewarded; it vindicates all the trust placed in Geronimo and her crew".
Having successfully navigated the first part of the course through the North Atlantic, Olivier de Kersauson nevertheless remains prudent in his assessment of what is to come: "There is an enormous anticyclone right across the South Atlantic and we're not sure about what kind of weather systems may lie ahead. There is a way through, but it's narrow. It's not a motorway and the road to the Cape of Good Hope will not be a straight one. We will probably have to cover an extra 1000 - or even 1200 miles to avoid the calms. There's a lot that can go wrong with the weather in the Atlantic".
Geronimo is performing well and making excellent speed, although her crew has been saddened to see the way her main hull sparkles with the scales of flying fish. "It's a massacre we can do nothing to prevent".
Geronimo is now in the world of the Southern Hemisphere. "If the sky is clear, we should be able to see the Southern Cross,"
said a delighted ODK who concluded his report with these verses from José Maria de Heredia:
"Et penché à l'avant des blanches caravelles.
Il regardait monter en un ciel ignore.
Du fond de l'horizon, des étoiles nouvelles".