Geronimo is nearly half-way round as they approach Cape Leeuwin (off sw tip of Australia) - their pace has been fast and consistent especially in the Southern Ocean sector. Although the official Jules Verne record time is set by Orange, the team are not taking their eyes off the pace of Olivier de Kersauson.
Last night Ellen and Meeno (router) did an all nighter poring over the satellite pictures trying to pick a way through the Doldrums, the band of unstable and unpredictable winds (or lack of) near the Equator. "Its like hacking your way through the jungle, you might roughly know where the exit is, but the route through is never very obvious, and certainly hard to predict too much in advance...so far we at least have not completely stopped," commented a tired Ellen this morning. "I've only been on deck for 30 minutes in the last 24 hours...that's quite frustrating...and hot!"
With just over 100 miles to go to the equator at 0700GMT, Kinghfisher2 was ahead of Orange's time by 14 hours, but 21 hours behind Geronimo's record breaking run. Kingfisher2 is estimated to cross the equator at approx 1500GMT today.
The biggest challenge though lies ahead. First of all the wind should fill in from the east as KINGFISHER2 reaches the South East Trade Winds (upwind rather than downwind like the past few days), but the real issue is how to cross the South Atlantic High Pressure system - a massive area of light winds stretching 3000 miles across the ocean ahead. Once past this, the Southern Ocean and its depressions await the team, but this is some way away...
'Crossing the line' ceremonies are planned for Andrew and Kevin as they will hopefully cross the Equator for the first time later this morning...particularly harsh punishments are likely in this traditional offering to Neptune...
CREW MEMBER FOCUS: Hendo (aka Andrew Henderson) - Rigger
Hendo (30) is Australian and you know it as he signs off "cop you later"! Hendo first joined the Team Kingfisher project back in the summer of 2001 as part of the crew for the EDS Atlantic Challenge - a five leg crewed race including two trans-Atlantics. Kingfisher was co-skippered by Ellen and Hendo's fellow Australian Nick Moloney who raced Kingfisher to victory in the final trans-Atlantic leg.
Since then Hendo has become a regular member of Team Kingfisher. Hendo worked extensively on the preparation of KINGFISHER2 and was a crewman on board her as Orange in the Round Britain and Ireland attempt. Hendo's philosphy for doing a Jules Verne is quick and easy: "The Jules Verne has it all - you get to send this weapon of a yacht at speed around the world with a bunch of your mates."