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24 February 2003, 12:01 pm
The Door to the North Opens a Little
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Jules Verne Trophy
Round the World

On her 43rd day at sea, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran covered just 296 nautical miles point-to-point, as the South Atlantic continues to prevent the crew making anything like rapid progress towards the Equator.
The eastward option seems out of the question, since it adds considerably to the distance and offers no possibility above 35° South. Only the direct route, with its slack irregular winds, remains. Its only advantage at present is that it is the shortest way home. Geronimo's abilities in low wind conditions are now vital if the French crew is not to remain imprisoned in an area where the chances of escape are looking slim.

"A long day of calms, sun and banks of haze. The very soft blue of the sea is a unusual sight for the lookout sitting on the front beam to warn the helmsman of drifting rafts of dense algae. Geronimo is in the South-North Falklands current, which drags icebergs as far north as Montevideo.

The calm and silence means there's not much to say about today, and no doubt the same will be true of tomorrow. Our route to the north is closed. There's no point brooding over time slipping away. We mustn't think about the Jules Verne or positions...especially not about positions. We have to tell ourselves that it's a nice spring day at sea and that we'll do our best to go as fast as we can with the few sighs of wind we have. We're also telling ourselves that it's fate, normal even, because you can't go all the way around the world without running into calms.

And after all, Geronimo is unrivalled in slack winds. We have to make the most of the boat's talent and the application of her crew, adjusting our trim constantly to gain a quarter of a knot, then another, and never, never going below to look at the chart table to bite your nails as you look at the course,"
Olivier says.

This morning, at the start of her 44th day at sea, Geronimo found some additional breeze and was heading north at a steady 19 knots. News Editor
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