This Sunday morning, Geronimo is on course back to Brest. Wind conditions have deteriorated even further for the French crew, with less than 10 knots of wind, which is backing easterly all the time.
Worse still, the 24- and 36-hour forecasts leave no doubt of what would lie ahead: a gaping windless hole opening up before the bows of Geronimo. The anticyclone will extend as far as 15° south and no trade wind is forecast until next week. With no chance left of beating the record set by Playstation, Geronimo's skipper has laid a course back to base.
This record attempt had many objectives, including beating Steve FOSSETT'S record, driving the boat hard in the trade winds to achieve pure speed and sea-testing the new rigging, sails and crew… all with the aim of returning to Brest in good shape at the beginning of December.
Although it was clear from the start that the trade winds would be slack or non-existent, there still remained the possibility of snatching the record set by the giant catamaran Playstation by exploiting the rather sluggish weather systems in the region. It was a waste of time and effort, since despite Geronimo's abilities in slack wind (the trimaran was making over 12 knots at 120 degrees to the wind in 8.6 knots of wind this morning) the record remained untouchable without at least a little wind.
What the crew was looking for was a wind speed of over 20 knots, which would have allowed them to cover over 600 miles a day and thoroughly check the new foresail geometries. It is possible that Geronimo could find such wind conditions by heading further north and into a low pressure system, which would take them well away route to San Salvador.
The weather window exploited last Tuesday guaranteed a good start as far as the Canaries, but was followed by total uncertainty. Since the forecasts beyond 5 days ahead were uncertain and - worse still - inconclusive, the risk had to be taken if they were to be able to return at the beginning of December to prepare fully and effectively for the Jules Verne Trophy.