Saturday, 16 May 2009

Mediterranean record: Groupama 3 sets off

Groupama 3 battles her away across the Mediterranean. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Groupama 3 set off on the Mediterranean record this Friday morning at exactly 0719 GMT according to the representative from the W.S.S.R.C, responsible for observing the departure of the maxi trimaran owned by the insurer-banker Groupama.

Groupama 3 will have to arrive in Carthage before 01hrs 15' 33'' (GMT) on Saturday 16th May in order to break the record set by Bruno Peyron.

Squalls and reduced visibility accompanied her passage across the start line situated abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse (43° 15.7' N- 005° 17.4' E), at the exit from the harbour of Marseilles, on the islands of Frioul.

Groupama 3 crosses the starting line abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

Franck Cammas and his 6 crew set off with 2 reefs in the mainsail, staysail and gennaker aloft. The atmosphere onboard was one of concentration as the conditions expected throughout the course (458 miles) will most certainly be feisty. Groupama 3 is heading southwards on starboard tack in a freshening tramontana and building seas.

The first gybe is scheduled for around 1200 GMT between 50 and 70 miles to the North-East of the Balearics. Around this zone the waves will be between 4 and 4.5 metres and there will be 30 to 35 knots of breeze, gusting to 40 knots!

On the way out of the harbour of Marseilles, the target speed of 32 knots was reached!

So they're off, bound for the open ocean with the wind in their sails and the bit between their teeth...

Groupama 3 in full flight. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

Groupama 3's crew
1) Franck Cammas
2) Frédéric Le Peutrec
3) Stève Ravussin
4) Loïc Le Mignon
5) Ronan Le Goff
6) Lionel Lemonchois
7) Thomas Coville (The skipper of Sodeb'O is currently on stand-by for the Discovery Route record. However, no window is presenting itself so Thomas will be aboard Groupama 3)
On shore: Sylvain Mondon (weather adviser)

Groupama 3 in full flight. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

• The trimaran Groupama 3 on stand-by from 6th May to 2nd June 2009 in Marseilles, in the port of Estaque
• The time to beat: 17 hours 56 minutes 33 seconds
• The current record holder: Bruno Peyron aboard the catamaran Orange II on 25th September 2004 (average speed: 25.53 knots)
• The number of nautical miles to cover: 458 miles

Groupama 3 in full flight. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

The course time, from Marseilles to Carthage: 458 miles
The start line lies abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse located at the exit from the harbour of Marseilles, on the islands of Frioul. The logical route takes you towards the Golfe de Tunis, leaving Corsica and Sardinia to port.

The finish line is positioned abeam of the Ras Quartajamah lighthouse, on Cap Carthage, near Sidi Bou Saïd.

Groupama 3 en route to Carthage. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

The weather of the course
There is a single imperative when setting off from Marseilles: a powerful Mistral which is created after the passage of an Atlantic low, but which extends beyond the Southern tip of Sardinia. A configuration which isn't that common as it's better to set off as the N to NW'ly wind is building along the coast of Marseilles and gradually fills as it heads along the coast of Corsica, easing progressively the further South it gets...

The Mediterranean is well known for its very short seas when the Mistral punches the air at over 40 knots. This makes the initial third of the course particularly feisty and tricky, before things become more manageable as far as the Sperone headland. It's the final third which is the most uncertain however: the Mistral has a W'ly element to it between Sardinia and Tunisia, but it can very quickly run out of steam. As for the last thirty miles between Cap Blanc and Cap Carthage, you can but hope the calms aren't reigning and that a thermal breeze kicks in: as such it's better to arrive in daylight hours.

Groupama 3 on her way across the Med. Image copyright Guilain GRENIER/Sea & Co.

The best times
1988: Saab Turbo (FRA), catamaran 22.80 metres (François Boucher) : 1 day 02h
1990: Jet Services V (FRA), catamaran 22.80 metres (Serge Madec)
1991: RMO (FRA), trimaran 18.28 metres (Laurent Bourgnon) : 22h 09m 11s
1991: Pierre 1er FRA), trimaran 18.28 metres (Florence Arthaud) : 22h 08m 26s
May 2002: PlayStation (USA), catamaran 37.90 metres (Steve Fossett) : 18h 46m 48s
25th september 2004: Orange II (FRA), catamaran 36.80 metres (Bruno Peyron) = 17h 56m 33s

Cammas - Groupama

No comments: