The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran covered 550 nautical miles over the last 24 hours, at an average speed of nearly 23 knots. The boat is performing extremely well.
"We're making between 24 and 25 knots almost all the time. Geronimo is really gliding and the sea conditions are good",
says Olivier de Kersauson.
Some time within the next 15 hours, Geronimo will be caught by an extremely fast-moving front travelling at around 50 knots, which could bring some very difficult and turbulent seas with it.
"This front could create such a sea that we might not be able to hold our current heading. The very direct route that we've been able to take since we passed south of the Kerguelen Islands has helped us to gain a three day advantage over Bruno Peyron's record time.
It's by no means certain that the bad weather now on its way will help us increase our lead, but I hope that it won't prevent us from maintaining it. The decision on whether or not to stay in the Howling Fifties depends on how this front presents itself and how it hits us. The Australian forecasters are describing it as very powerful, but the European forecasters don't seem to agree. We may have to go a little further south, which I don't really want to do, because we are already in the Antarctic convergence zone, which means potential ice. If it turns out that we can't get through the storm and we have to go further south, we may have to heave-to until it has passed",
explains the skipper.
It's now a little over three weeks since the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric crew left Brest, and fatigue is beginning to set in. Watches can be difficult when the boat is travelling this fast and moving around so much.
"Nevertheless, it's done nothing to discourage the speed competition between the two watches. The race is really on now, because the winds are pretty well sustained. Both are putting between 128 and 140 nautical miles on the clock every watch. So it's war between Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric. It's a lot of fun",
says Olivier de Kersauson.
And what drives the crew of Geronimo on this race for sea miles? "Honour, of course!"
The crew may be intent on clocking up the miles, but every member is conscious of the need to take care of the boat and its equipment. "You're always tempted to really go for it, but when the sea doesn't let the boat glide properly, the impacts can be incredibly hard. Last night, wave impact meant we had to make two emergency repairs. It's dangerous for the boat and the crew. You have to strike the right balance".
In the next few hours, everything depends on the type of seas Geronimo meets, but the weather systems of the Indian Ocean can be very violent and very fast-moving. "The Australian weather warnings show us that the forecast could be increased by 40%. We know that there can be "extra" effects in these seas, where the mixtures of air flows predicted by the forecast don't always happen, but we'll see…"