Sunday, 7 March 2010

JVT: Patient Concentration for Groupama 3

Sunset on board Groupama 3. Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Offshore of the coast of Argentina, Groupama 3 is continuing her ascent of the Southern Atlantic in weather conditions which are not enabling her to battle on equal terms with the current Jules Verne Trophy champion. This will remain the case over the next few days for a crew who loves a fight...

Flat seas, sunshine and rising temperatures: such are the sailing conditions aboard Groupama 3; the perfect ambiance for any navigator suffice to say. However, they aren't good enough for the ten sailors, who are tackling their 34th day at sea in their bid to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy. Indeed the crew are dreaming of hearing the hull whistling through the water, the vibrating carbon, the spray slapping against their faces and the miles gained in relation to their virtual rival.

"You've caught us just at the right time as the sailing conditions have dramatically changed this very instant. It's a really interesting phenomenon and one that is well known and great to see. It's an oceanic transition of the marine current, which equates to a temperature change from 6° to 12° within a distance of just 40 or 50 miles. We've also had a very fast variation in wind strength and sea state! The sea is pretty flat, the wind has kicked in again and we're once again making the kind of speeds Groupama 3 is familiar with. This boat is absolutely magical and we have a fantastic early morning light and an extraordinary sunrise! I love moments like these, it's really enjoyable!" confided Thomas Coville during the daily radio link-up with Groupama's Jules Verne HQ.

Heading up to the NE, the maxi trimaran is nevertheless managing to stave off the effects of a less than favourable forecast thanks to an outstanding human and technical performance. She is performing well technically because Groupama 3 has been designed to be versatile enough to perform well when traversing the Atlantic, as much in downwind conditions as upwind, as well as in light and strong breezes alike. In human terms the crew is performing well because one of the great strengths of this conquest relates to the calibre and complementary nature of the mature, passionate crew.

"Stève and I went into the port float yesterday to inspect the boat and check that her structure was intact. It was and there was no visible damage on the float at all. We were keeping a close eye on her throughout our Pacific crossing. We've got no damage to the boat, the sails are as they were at the start, just a little more worn, but whether we're referring to the appendages, the hull, the mast or the electronics, we've nothing to lament! As such we're constantly able to sail the boat at 100%! That must be satisfying for the shore crew, who spent months and even years making the boat reliable! They can be proud of themselves! The great quality of Franck is that he has succeeded in gathering around him a fantastic crew and has hunted down our navigator, Stan Honey, from the Anglo-Saxon world. I really salute his open-mindedness because he's been extremely visionary!"

Rounding Cape Horn for the seventh time, both in solo and crewed configuration, Thomas isn't of the view that the most difficult section of the course is in Groupama 3's wake:

"Cape Horn, even for those who are the most blasé about it, is always a very fine and great moment. An important transition above all else, it's also a focal point, especially when it's so long in coming as it was this time! Right now we're entering another process of the course, which is about becoming a race against the clock and carrying this project all the way through to the end and beating the record. I have a very fond memory of my passage last year, but it was very different to this. Here our joy and our emotion stayed onboard, whilst a year ago I shared them with my shore crew. Right now the race against the clock has begun and getting a new record is at the forefront of our minds! We have the humility to tell ourselves that Orange's ascent was pretty good. However Groupama is a fast boat in all conditions and we still hold the right cards to win this Jules Verne. Nevertheless, as time ticks on, the time that goes by, as it does in an hourglass, will become obsessive, and that will be hard to deal with" concludes Thomas.

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)
Day 27 (27th February 1400 UTC): 797 miles (lead = 560 miles)
Day 27 (27th February 1400 UTC): 560 miles (lead = 517 miles)
Day 29 (1st March 1400 UTC): 434 miles (lead = 268 miles)
Day 30 (2nd March 1400 UTC): 575 miles (lead = 184 miles)
Day 31 (3rd March 1400 UTC): 617 miles (lead = 291 miles)
Day 32 (4th March 1400 UTC): 492 miles (lead = 248 miles)
Day 33 (5th March 1400 UTC): 445 miles (lead = 150 miles)
Day 34 (6th March 1400 UTC): 461 miles (lead = 58 miles)

WSSRC record from equator to equator
Orange 2 (2005): 33d 16h 06'

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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