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3 February 2003, 11:30 am
Geronimo in the Howling Fifties
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Jules Verne Trophy
Round the World

In the last 24 hours, the Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran has covered 463 nautical miles at an average speed of very nearly 20 knots.
As Olivier de Kersauson was hoping, Geronimo has passed south of the Kerguelen Islands, leaving them to port.

These volcanic islands are the highest tips of the northern Kerguelen-Heard ocean plateau. In total, the archipelago covers some 7215 km2 and is made up of one large island, Grande-Terre, and many smaller islands and islets. Discovered by Yves Joseph de Kerguelen de Trémarec on 13 February 1772, the "Desolation Islands" form part of the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (T.A.A.F.).

Geronimo entered the Howling Fifties yesterday morning. "The seas in this part of the Southern Ocean are fearsome and any hope of rescue is just a fantasy. This is a place of total isolation: an immense desert of savage waves of biblical proportions," says Olivier de Kersauson.

Like the Roaring Forties, the term Howling Fifties has come about as the result of the fast-moving westerly current created by the passage of many depressions, most of which are centred to the south of the 50th parallel. These depressions move east and very slightly south, and are sometimes countered by high pressure areas. These ridges are the southerly extensions of the sub-tropical anticyclones normally found over the south eastern parts of South America, Africa and Australia. As they move slowly eastwards, they deflect the faster moving depressions towards the south.

When these depressions meet Antarctica, they move around its coast, unable to penetrate inland against the high pressure areas that sit above the heart of the continent.

Geronimo is currently averaging over 22 knots due east (average speed over the last 12 hours). At 15:00 GMT, she was 1485 nautical miles from Cape Leeuwin. The water temperature had fallen to 4°C and the air temperature to 3°C at that time. The wind has been fairly stable since the beginning of the day at around 30 knots. The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric crew have now passed the Heard Islands to the North. News Editor
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