Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Franck Cammas at the helm of Groupama 3. Image copyright Team Groupama.
by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller
By passing Cape Leeuwin this Monday morning, Franck Cammas and his nine crew have got onto the same longitude as Orange 2 in 2005. Groupama 3 currently has a deficit of 137 miles, but this is only as a result of her trajectory being 6° further North. As such this separation could fade to nothing at the entry to the Pacific as Bruno Peyron and his crew had to climb up to 50° South at that point...
6 days 22 hours 34 minutes: between Cape Agulhas and Cape Leeuwin, Groupama 3 has achieved the best reference time over this section of the course, which spans around 4,000 miles. It's been a very fast crossing over the past four days since Franck Cammas and his men have covered 2,893 miles at an average of 30.13 knots... The giant trimaran is just two days from the midway mark now and the crew are beginning to appreciate how far they are from civilisation.
"There's some separation between you and us: night is about to fall here, but there's already a little piece of moon, which is rather pleasant... Even though our objective is naturally to make it back to Ushant, it's a good feeling to have reached Cape Leeuwin so quickly: it's a bit like being on the motorway! After a laboured start at the entry to the Indian Ocean, we've had smooth seas, steady wind, the boat's been going fast the whole time and we're not wearing ourselves out. However Cape Horn is a still a long way off... The monotony's beginning to hit us a little, though we've had a few manoeuvres to perform today. When all you're doing is helming because the wind's not changing, it is much of a muchness though. Paradoxically, the more time passes the shorter the days seem!" said Lionel Lemonchois at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.
Groupama 3 is still sailing in a steady NW'ly wind of twenty-five knots, which has been propelling her along on a particularly straight trajectory 45° S for the past four days. The blistering pace making due East at an average of thirty knots is set to continue till the end of the Indian Ocean too. As such it's possible that there will be another WSSRC record to follow as the crossing from Cape Agulhas to Tasmania is recognised by sailing's international record office. Indeed Bruno Peyron and his men (including Lionel Lemonchois, Jacques Caraës and Ronan Le Goff who are now sailing aboard Groupama 3) took 9d 11h 04'...
Grey on grey!
"We're thousands of kilometres from any land, which is always pretty impressive when you think about it. You can feel that you're in a world which is far away from human life. However, with a boat that is as fast as Groupama 3 we're managing to position ourselves ahead of the front, the seascape is less spectacular and has fewer contrasts than when you traverse a depression with cross seas, blue skies and albatrosses... Right now we're sailing through the grey! We must have seen the sun for ten minutes on two occasions since the Southern Atlantic: it's monotonous, without contrast, coloured by fog and a large SW'ly swell, with few birds or marine mammals..."
Still ahead of the front, Franck Cammas and his men won't see any big changes over the next few hours with a leaden sky, stable wind and increasingly undulating seas set to continue. However, despite the seascape not having much to offer by way of attractions, the crew are ticking off the miles and the entry into the Pacific is scheduled over the course of Tuesday night or the early hours of Wednesday. Following on from that, they will have to choose the best way to tackle the two lows, which are set to fuse together offshore of New Zealand...
"A low has settled over our course after Tasmania and we have two options. Either we can skirt round New Zealand, or we can go a lot further South. The situation is evolving as we speak though and it's likely we can follow an intermediate course. Our navigator Stan Honey is fairly optimistic: he thinks we'll be able to get ahead of a front again and do approximately the same thing as we did in the Indian Ocean, which is good news! We're fining down the routing right now but it's likely we're going to set a course to the SE on starboard tack from Tuesday evening."
Repositioning themselves further South could prove to be a favourable option as each degree of latitude gained will reduce the distance towards Cape Horn by around a hundred miles!
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)
WSSRC record for traversing the Indian Ocean (from Cape Agulhas to Southern Tasmania)
Orange 2 (2005): 9d 11h 04'
Reference time from Cape Agulhas to Cape Leeuwin
Orange 2 (2005): 7d 05h 35'
Cammas - Groupama