Saturday, 27 February 2010

JVT: Peaceful and Pacific for Groupama 3

Distance to finish 10,509 miles; advance on record 468 miles - at 1800 UTC on 26th February 2010

"We passed within three miles of Auckland Island, which is the first land we've seen since setting out from Ushant..." Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Sixty miles better in 24 hours: Groupama 3 is continuing to extend her lead in relation to Orange 2's course in 2005. The weather conditions remain excellent for making fast and effortless headway towards Cape Horn, around 3,000 miles ahead on the same latitude...

This is beginning to become a habit. Indeed it's been a week now that Groupama 3 has been accumulating 650 to 750 mile days! 5,650 miles in eight days, that is almost twice the distance of an Atlantic crossing... It just goes to show then that the situation is also favourable for devouring the Pacific, since Franck Cammas and his crew are now ahead of a front, which is pursuing them, as was the case in the Indian Ocean. And should the phenomenon continue as far as the tip of South America, this will give them an added bonus to the 430 miles that the giant trimaran has already amassed since Tasmania!

The days follow on...

"It's dark but there is a beautiful moon. There's a clear sky and it's nice to be able to see the stars... We hope to see the reflection of Antarctica in the early hours as the moon falls below the horizon. We may even see the aurora australis! We have between 22 and 25 knots of NW'ly wind and we're sailing under one reef mainsail and medium gennaker. It's not overly cold, we're not wet and the water is still at 8°C: all's well! The weather's superb... And we still have a rather pleasant sea state which is easy to negotiate. We're not going crazy!" said Ronan Le Goff at the 1130 UTC radio session with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.

This is certainly the case but looking at their progress from land, this pace seems incredibly fast along what has been an amazingly straight course over the past eight days! Tracking along at 55° South, Groupama 3 is ensuring that she's keeping a long way away from the ice and, at that same time, is able to reduce the distance to make Cape Horn. After Auckland Island, which they just skirted on Thursday, there is no more land before Drake's Passage... similar fashion

"We passed within three miles of Auckland Island, which is the first land we've seen since setting out from Ushant..." Image copyright Team Groupama.

"We saw another island yesterday so we don't really feel all alone in the world. In addition, it's not taking as long as all that! In five days time we're going to see land again... As regards icebergs, our navigator Stan Honey has told us that we're not going to pass through any zones of `ill repute'. Of course the sky will soon become overcast since the front is catching up with us, but that will enable us to stay in a stable NW'ly breeze for a good while... There will be one to three gybes in store, but after that we'll be on a straight track towards Cape Horn."

Life goes on and the ten men on Groupama 3 are punctuating their days with hours spent on watch, sleeping or on stand-by, eating or talking in the "gas corner"... Indeed the kitchen is the place to be for all the different communities onboard who want to exchange thoughts and discuss all manner of topics that are a far cry from the preoccupations of landlubbers. After 26 days at sea, the separation between those on the water and those on land is perceptible and the day's questions are more geared around the composition of lunch or the recognition of seabirds than paying the electric bill...

"Life onboard is different on Groupama 3 in relation to Orange 2: for sure there were two habitable hulls and it was more spacious and more comfortable on Orange. However, despite there being less privacy on the trimaran, it's going very well. It really is a fine voyage, but we've seen fewer birds like petrels, cape petrels and albatrosses over the past few days..."

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)
Day 11 (11th February 1400 UTC): 267 miles (deficit = 30 miles)
Day 12 (12th February 1400 UTC): 247 miles (deficit = 385 miles)
Day 13 (13th February 1400 UTC): 719 miles (deficit = 347 miles)
Day 14 (14th February 1400 UTC): 680 miles (deficit = 288 miles)
Day 15 (15th February 1400 UTC): 651 miles (deficit = 203 miles)
Day 16 (16th February 1400 UTC): 322 miles (deficit = 376 miles)
Day 17 (17th February 1400 UTC): 425 miles (deficit = 338 miles)
Day 18 (18th February 1400 UTC): 362 miles (deficit = 433 miles)
Day 19 (19th February 1400 UTC): 726 miles (deficit = 234 miles)
Day 20 (20th February 1400 UTC): 672 miles (deficit = 211 miles)
Day 21 (21th February 1400 UTC): 584 miles (deficit = 124 miles)
Day 22 (22nd February 1400 UTC): 607 miles (deficit = 137 miles)
Day 23 (23rd February 1400 UTC): 702 miles (lead = 60 miles)
Day 24 (24th February 1400 UTC): 638 miles (lead = 208 miles)
Day 25 (25th February 1400 UTC): 712 miles (lead = 371 miles)
Day 26 (26th February 1400 UTC): 687 miles (lead = 430 miles)

WSSRC record for the Pacific Ocean crossing (from the South of Tasmania to Cape Horn)
Orange 2 (2005): 8d 18h 08'

The crew and organisation aboard Groupama 3
• Watch No.1: Franck Cammas / Loïc Le Mignon / Jacques Caraës
• Watch No.2: Stève Ravussin / Thomas Coville / Bruno Jeanjean
• Watch No.3: Fred Le Peutrec / Lionel Lemonchois / Ronan Le Goff
• Off watch navigator: Stan Honey goes up on deck for manoeuvres
• One watch system on deck, one watch on stand-by ready to help manoeuvre, one watch totally resting

The record to beat
Currently held by Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 since 2005 with a time of 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes at an average of 17.89 knots. Lionel Lemonchois, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës were aboard at the time.

Cammas - Groupama

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