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Orange II 200 miles ahead at the halfway stage

by Agence Mer & Média 4 Jul 2006 21:36 BST

New 24-hour record: 766 miles for Bruno Peyron’s crew

Orange II is on schedule to beat the Atlantic record. Yesterday at 16h GMT, the maxi catamaran once again smashed the 24-hour record by reaching an average speed of almost 32 knots and clocking up 766 miles in one day. At the second comparison point today, Bruno Peyron’s crew had a lead of almost 200 miles over Steve Fossett’s PlayStation, the record holder with a time of 4 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes and six seconds.

At 16h GMT yesterday, the calculators delivered their latest verdict: twenty-four hours at an average speed of 31.9 knots. 766 miles clocked up or 60 more than the previous record also held by Orange II and 14 more than the new historic time set yesterday morning. By smashing the record twice in one day, you certainly cannot say that Bruno Peyron’s crew got off to a bad start on this 2006 attempt at the North Atlantic record. «766 miles, that’s a nice number, isn’t it?» smiled the ‘Boss’ this morning during his radio session with Jean Maurel, before explaining: «We’re still continually above the polars drawn up for this record. I won’t say which, but I think we’ve found what it takes. You’re always learning something on this boat. That in itself is great.»

As they smash the 24 hour record again and again, which was the second objective announced before the start, Orange II is obviously ahead on its main goal of grabbing Steve Fossett’s record and finishing in less than 4 days, 17 hours and 28 minutes. At the second comparison point after the Newfoundland Banks, Bruno Peyron’s maxi catamaran with the other eleven crewmen had built up a lead of 199 miles over the route taken by PlayStation, or in other words 66 miles more than at the first comparison point. At the halfway point, (at 11h42 GMT today, there were 1380 miles left to go to cross the finish at The Lizard), the situation is looking good.

Final approach via Ireland

However, it’s not won yet. In fact, "the wind should ease off today, even if it is still blowing at 30 knots as I speak", but above all "there is some uncertainty about the front catching us up. That’s why, we have to make gains eastwards, but also in latitude (northwards, editor’s note). That explains why we’re moving up, as the final approach will be made via the Fastnet rock, via Ireland, to close the angle if the wind eases off (and therefore keep up our speed)."

As the radio session was taking place, Pascal Bidégorry was at the helm of Orange II and the speed was not falling off. Bruno Peyron tried to describe the feelings on board and told us of a first minor incident. «We’re making 30 to 32 knots with a reef in the mainsail, the staysail and gennaker, so have a little too much sail up. We have to be careful, as we may have lost a bit of our rudder. Late in the night we hit a peak of 38 knots and we hit something. Since then, there’s been something slightly wrong, so we’re constantly keeping an eye out, but for the time being, it’s O.K. If we stay fully concentrated at the helm it will work out. We yawed twice, and although it was nothing too serious, we must be careful. When we go over on one hull for a few seconds, you can easily see what may happen.»

While the thick mist from the first 24 hours seems to be clearing - «we can see for about three miles now, in some rather heavy seas.» - Orange II is continuing to speed along towards the legendary record. At the position check at 11h42 GMT, the monster was recorded at 32.2 knots of instant speed and her average since the start in New York on Sunday is close to 31 knots. To beat Steve Fossett, they need to cross the finishing line off The Lizard before 04h28 GMT on Friday morning. The suspense will be kept up until the finish…

What they said:

Gilles Ollier (the designer of Orange II) : The Gilles Ollier Design Team and all the staff at Multiplast are very proud to have contributed to the achievement made by Bruno Peyron and his crew and offer their warmest congratulations. Actually, we knew that Orange II had a potential of 750 miles per day. Her performance yesterday confirmed that magnificently. In fact, the Gilles Ollier Design Team firmly believes that the objective of 800 miles a day can be reached in the near future.

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