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4 March 2003, 12:01 pm
Day 52 - Geronimo Comes Back To Life
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Jules Verne Trophy
Round the World

The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran is back up to speed. Although relatively light, at between 12 and 14 knots, the trade winds are allowing the crew to create a more consistent apparent wind.
Geronimo has been averaging over 16 knots since this morning. The various weather forecasting models all indicate prudence, since none show a well-established system, but the route to the Equator now seems finally to be opening up.

"For these last five days, the wind has been variable between 6 and 8 knots. We now have double that, which is powering Geronimo at between 15 and 20 knots, but I´m still keeping my fingers crossed, because the cloud system above us is far from settled. Nevertheless, we´ve been clocking up the miles today and are starting to achieve some averages that are at least consistent, even if they´re not exceptional. It´s a very different situation to what we´ve experienced in recent days, where we´ve been able to touch a maximum of 13 knots on occasions. It´s been a dispiriting and very stressful time. Geronimo was rather shamefaced in her glide.

The wind has returned and the boat has come back to life. It´s a real change. The atmosphere is active again and we´re making real progress. We´re making real headway and the miles are clocking up again! However, we´re noticing some signs of fatigue in certain components, especially the mainsail traveller. The boat´s equipment has had a hard time, despite the fact that we´ve looked after it carefully. The mainsail is in good condition, as are the jib, staysail and gennaker. It´s a bit more difficult to tell with the mechanical parts of the boat - bearings, for example.

The mast foot has begun to make some awful grinding noises. The boat is certainly in racing condition, but the accumulated strain built up over three-quarters of the way around the world is really beginning to be felt. Everything has got to hold together until we cross the finish line. There are times, although this is certainly not one of them, where it´s sensible to look at the parameters and slacken off a bit to make sure that we don´t completely annihilate our mainsail traveller. All these things have to be carefully considered. It´s a collective effort involving a great deal of care",
explains the skipper.

The Cap Gemini and Schneider Electric trimaran is making relatively good progress, despite the fact that the wind is not as favourable as forecast. "Over the next 12 hours or so, as soon as we´re sure that the wind will change, we may be able to head due north and cross the Equator at around 32° West". Days 52 and 53 were particularly strong ones for Orange, which managed to clock up over 500 nautical miles: a target it will be very difficult for Geronimo to match given the weather conditions now forecast.

Olivier de Kersauson also gave his reaction to Alinghi´s victory in the America´s Cup: "The Swiss team arrived with a very well-developed system and knew exactly what they wanted and didn´t want and, more importantly, how they were going to achieve it. Well, they´ve succeeded. Now that the next America´s Cup can be held in the Northern Hemisphere, it should bring a lot more Europeans into contact with the sport and create a better understanding of this outstanding race". News Editor
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