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          23/02/2002

          Grands Records: Geronimo approaches the Equateur

          At dawn this morning, the maxi-trimaran Geronimo and her valiant crew of eleven were still averaging almost 16 knots off the coast of Guinea-Bissau en route to the equator and the Southern Hemisphere.

          Having managed to go flat out for the first four days after leaving the start line off Ushant in the early hours of Monday morning, Olivier de Kersauson and his crew have managed "only" 380 nautical miles in the last twenty-four, battling to cope with winds of unpredictable strength and direction as they approach the Intertropical Convergence Zone: the infamous Doldrums.

          This area is renowned for its alternating flat calms and violent squalls. It’s a situation that really tests equipment and tries the nerve of the crew, all of whom need to be vigilant at all times. Changing sails, reefing sails, gibing and tacking have therefore become a constant way of life for the Schneider Electric (Didier Ragot) and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (Yves Pouillaude) watches that man the deck of Geronimo turn-and-turn-about for 24 hours a day.
          It now remains to be seen whether they will cross the equator tomorrow evening or, as seems more likely, in the early hours of Monday morning.

          But whenever it happens, the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and Schneider Electric trimaran is well ahead of its worthy predecessor (Sport-Elec crossed the equator after 11 days and 2 hours at sea) and, as Olivier says: "The distance we’ve already covered is mileage we don’t have to do again in this race against the clock".