Thursday, 11 February 2010

JVT: High Havoc for Groupama 3

Sunset near the Brazilian coast. Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

It's been a difficult day with a tricky night in prospect after ten days at sea! While Groupama 3 is approaching 35° South, the weather situation isn't really playing ball for the next 24 hours, with conditions forecast to be pretty unstable as regards the wind. As such Franck Cammas and his men are constantly having to adapt to the irregular breeze by zigzagging between the zones of high pressure.

Loïc Lemonchois and Ronan Le Goff. Image copyright Team Groupama.

The clock is ticking and the miles are slipping by in a negative sense: the lead Groupama 3 had over the Jules Verne Trophy reference time has melted in the tropical sunshine, plummeting from over 600 miles to less than 300 miles... And it's going to get worse before it gets better! Indeed, the Saint Helena High has split into several cells and Franck Cammas and his nine crew are having to deal with zones of high pressure, which are imploding on site, only to reform again a little further down the track... It's hard to establish a strict plan of campaign when the wind is disappearing into thin air!

Bruno Jeanjean and Thomas Coville. Image copyright Team Groupama.

"Fortunately there were some good wind rotations to play with last night: we were able to cover a fair few miles towards the South until morning. We've been able to make headway with some fairly unstable local phenomena, which is allowing us to drop down nicely under gennaker. We've only had gybes to do, but no sail changing manoeuvres. We had to be on the look-out the whole night so as to get the very best out of the shifts. It's a race against the clock with a zone of high pressure that could well swallow us up. It's a bit tense on board, but we're doing what we can!" indicated Franck Cammas at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.

Attacking the front!

Ronan Le Goff. Image copyright Team Groupama.

They're going to have to keep champing at the bit and remain particularly vigilant in order to gradually make up ground towards the South to escape the high pressure metastasis. There are nearly 300 miles to go before they can open up the throttle in a very S'ly depression system, associated with around twenty knots of W'ly wind. Already Franck Cammas and his men know they're going to have their work cut out to round the Cape of Good Hope as fast as Bruno Peyron in 2005 (14d 08h 19'). However, as long as they're only a few hours behind on entering the Indian Ocean, it'll be game on once again! One thing for sure is that the crew are going to be under great pressure over the coming hours...

Ronan Le Goff. Image copyright Team Groupama.

"Since lunchtime we've been sailing in a light 9-10 knot SW'ly breeze. The sea is already being a little influenced by the effects of the swell from the Deep South so we're `swaying' about a bit. We're still seeking to gain ground to the South as quickly as possible so we can hook onto the lows. However, the first front with SW'ly winds won't hit us till Thursday evening: the tricky section is between now and midnight! We'll just have to hope that we don't fall into a wind hole, which would put us behind the front..."

Thomas Coville, Bruno Jeanjean, Stève Ravussin, and Jacques Caraës. Image copyright Team Groupama.

Groupama 3's log (departure on 31st January at 13h 55' 53'' UTC)
Day 1 (1st February 1400 UTC): 500 miles (deficit = 94 miles)
Day 2 (2nd February 1400 UTC): 560 miles (lead = 3.5 miles)
Day 3 (3rd February 1400 UTC): 535 miles (lead = 170 miles)
Day 4 (4th February 1400 UTC): 565 miles (lead = 245 miles)
Day 5 (5th February 1400 UTC): 656 miles (lead = 562 miles)
Day 6 (6th February 1400 UTC): 456 miles (lead = 620 miles)
Day 7 (7th February 1400 UTC): 430 miles (lead = 539 miles)
Day 8 (8th February 1400 UTC): 305 miles (lead = 456 miles)
Day 9 (9th February 1400 UTC): 436 miles (lead = 393 miles)
Day 10 (10th February 1400 UTC): 355 miles (lead = 272 miles)

Best passage time to the equator from Ushant
Groupama 3: 5d 15h 23' (November 2009)

Jules Verne Trophy reference time to the equator
Orange 2: 7d 02h 56' (January 2005)

Cammas - Groupama

No comments: