Friday, 12 March 2010

JVT: Roll on Tomorrow for Groupama 3

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Franck Cammas and his nine crew are navigating through a difficult zone between a stormy low and the tradewinds of the Saint Helena High. In fact Groupama 3 will have to continue northward for another 36 hours before she can escape this meteorological minefield and pick up the thread of this Jules Verne Trophy again... Each puff of breeze translates as a gain or loss in relation to the reference time!

There are still another 4,500 miles to go before they can get a glimpse of Finistère on the horizon! A sight Franck Cammas and his crew hope to see in eleven days if they are to stand a chance of beating the round the world record! Before all that though, they will have to escape the meteorological minefield, which has held Groupama 3 captive for over a day in shifty and rather unfavourable winds... Fortunately the 10-man crew are 100% focused on doing just that, though it is still tricky to cast one's mind forward some ten days when you're at sea. Whatever happens, the energy and atmosphere aboard the giant trimaran is so positive that the obstacles along the route are but trivial...

"We had some difficulties last night and since then we've had to deal with squalls every ten minutes, but we're now beginning to escape this unstable zone! We're not yet into the tradewinds, but it's reminiscent of such conditions, even though we're not yet reaching great speeds. Everyone is on watch in the rather pleasant conditions in order to build up their strength again. After 39 days at sea, we're no longer having any problems in adapting to the weather conditions, but we have lost some weight and we're longing to eat fresh food!" indicated Franck Cammas at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris, in the presence of Frédéric Courant, co-host of a French science programme.

Constant adaptation

The unstable zone of wind isn't yet astern of Groupama 3 as they must not only leave behind them the stormy low, which has dramatically slowed their progress over the past two days, but also traverse a ridge of high pressure, which will be a tricky transition phase taking them on to the E'ly tradewinds of Saint Helena... For now then, the crew is constantly having to adapt with these changeable conditions!

"In the space of a minute we were able to have a wash in a squall! However, we're trying to avoid being under the influence of a cumulonimbus where there isn't a lot of wind... We can clearly see that the tradewinds aren't far off now. We've pretty much had it with upwind sailing as the time goes slowly in these kinds of conditions. However, we're going to have to be patient for another 36 hours before we find ourselves in a steadier and more favourable system. The passage of the equator is set for Sunday morning and in the meantime we're going to flirt with the light airs. We're going to have to make as rapid headway as we can to hold onto our chances of beating the Jules Verne Trophy record."

Tradewind instructions for use

"Groupama 3 has been sailing into the wind since Cape Horn and they're going to have to wait till Friday night or early on Saturday before they track down more favourable winds... As such the next 36 hours will continue to be difficult, as they'll have to traverse a ridge of high pressure. After the Doldrums, the NE'ly tradewinds are well installed in the North Atlantic and, following on from that, a depression will need to be created over the North American continent so as to propel the giant trimaran towards Ushant at high speed. There's a strong likelihood of this happening too!" explained Sylvain Mondon from Météo France.

In the meantime, the giant trimaran is still managing to maintain a stable separation in relation to the reference time as Orange 2 didn't have the wind gods on her side at this point in 2005 either. Whilst Groupama 3 is having to put in a series of tacks to make northing, her predecessor had to wait a while before they made it through to the tradewinds associated with the Saint Helena High. Currently with a deficit of around 300 miles, Franck Cammas and his men still have everything to play for as the ascent of the North Atlantic wasn't very fast for Bruno Peyron and his crew... However, now more than ever before, every hour counts.

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)
Day 35 (7th March 1400 UTC): 382 miles (deficit = 100 miles)
Day 36 (8th March 1400 UTC): 317 miles (deficit = 326 miles)
Day 37 (9th March 1400 UTC): 506 miles (deficit = 331 miles)
Day 38 (10th March 1400 UTC): 321 miles (deficit = 384 miles)
Day 39 (11th March 1400 UTC): 255 miles (deficit = 309 miles)

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

Cammas - Groupama

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