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27 January 2003, 10:02 am
Geronimo Into Southern Ocean
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Jules Verne Trophy
Round The World

Earlier yesterday, Geronimo crossed the fortieth parallel heading south-east towards South Africa and should round the Cape of Good Hope today.
The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran continues to maintain an impressive pace and is now nearly a thousand nautical miles ahead of Bruno Peyron's record.

The calms of the St. Helena high are now far behind and the warm sun nothing but a memory. Welcome then to the aptly-named Roaring Forties and Howling Fifties. Even in the best case scenario, Olivier de Kersauson and his crew now face at least three weeks of confronting the elemental fury of the Southern Ocean.

The uniformly grey sky is filled with wispy cloud and betrays the change of weather system and climate. It's now time to brave the stormy world of the Southern Ocean. Here, the wind and sea here never stop moving, with heavy swells following one after the other at up to twenty knots. In this part of the world, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current swirls eastwards like a giant endless ring connecting the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. There is no continental mass to slow it down The same applies to the dominant westerly winds, which are strengthened even further by the huge depressions that arise regularly in these latitudes and have such an enormous effect on such immense empty spaces. Average wind speeds here are 50 to 60 knots, gusting up to 80 or 90. Waves breaking at 10 or even 20 metres are commonplace, and can reach 35 metres when high winds add to the swell.

Historically, this area of perpetual bad weather has hindered the discovery and exploration of the southern continents and, of course Antarctica itself, where Dumont d'Urville first set foot in 1840.

In these hostile lands, the Albatross is king. With the largest individuals having a wingspan of 4 metres, these birds have been known to cover nearly 10,000 kilometres of sea in a week by exploiting the winds. They will be Geronimo's only companions as she drives onwards through the forties to round the Cape of Good Hope at the start of the week.

26 January 2003 - Boat's position at 15:00 GMT

40°14S, 07°01E

Distance travelled in 12 hours: 280.1 nautical miles.
Average speed over the last 12 hours: 23.34 knots
Distance to the Cape of Good Hope: 528 nautical miles

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