Friday, 26 February 2010

JVT: The antipodal point for Groupama 3

Jacques Caraës on board Groupama 3. Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

At 52° S and 172° E, Groupama 3 is positioned at a point which is practically antipodal to the finish point off Ushant! With a 360 mile lead over the reference time this Thursday lunchtime, which is the equivalent of a good half a day, Franck Cammas and his men are carving out a course in almost ideal conditions to the South of New Zealand.

In fact it isn't quite the Créac'h lighthouse which corresponds with the point on the globe which is diametrically opposite to where Franck Cammas and his men were located this Thursday noon, but rather Dublin... Indeed the 25 to 30 knot SW to W'ly wind blowing offshore of Campbell Island, 350 miles to the South of New Zealand, has enabled the giant trimaran to make good headway to the SE, which is particularly positive in terms of the gains made in relation to the goal. Indeed the further South the boat sails, the shorter the distance she will have to cover to make Cape Horn. This is the principle behind the "La mer est ronde" (The Sea is Round - Deniau): not only has Groupama 3 been stretching out her lead over Orange 2 since the Crozet Islands, but she also has less distance to cover to get to the third cape in the Jules Verne Trophy!

"The moon has been visible again over the past two nights: there's a wonderful light which is facilitating control at the helm and any manoeuvres that have to be made. Furthermore, we've passed behind a front so we can see some beautiful breaks in the cloud, which are filled with stars. Earlier on we passed within three miles of Auckland Island, which is the first land we've seen since setting out from Ushant... It was nice: a very wild island, without human life, with waterfalls running into the sea! It's the end of the world, lost in the Pacific Ocean..." said Franck Cammas at the 1130 UTC video conference with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris, in the presence of French TV presenter, Maïtena Biraben.

Tomorrow the International Date Line

Still behind a depression circulating at 60° S, Groupama 3 is making headway in a slightly irregular breeze, both in terms of strength and direction, though the sea is undulating in an increasingly harmonious manner. As such making thirty knots of boat speed isn't a hard pace to maintain and the boat and crew alike are not suffering. Their excellent VMG (velocity made good) is also scheduled to continue over the next few days too. Indeed a front is in the process of catching up with the giant trimaran, which will cause the breeze to shift round to the NW; an extremely favourable rotation for slipping along towards Cape Horn. In fact current routing is announcing a rounding of this bare rock at the end of next week; a moment which will be synonymous with liberation, the way out, the end, the boundary stone, which marks the far edge of the Southern Ocean on a circumnavigation of the globe.

"By Thursday we won't be far off Cape Horn and it'll be a real deliverance because we'll be back in milder, warmer lands again. Right now though, it's becoming increasingly cold! Yet this type of sailing is also a part of what we came here for... The `No Exit' life we've been leading over the past 25 days isn't a problem: mood changes are always negative, so we restrain ourselves and come to terms with it... we're getting to know each other well though!"

The same day twice!

"When things are monotonous it's a good sign! It means that the trajectory is straight and we're making fast headway... and that the wind is stable and steady. It's down to the fact that it was monotonous that we were able to go so fast in the Indian Ocean! Right now things have changed a bit in the sense that we're further South and on port tack. The sea is different too and the sky is clearer. We're still using UTC time but it's dark: it's midnight local time here."

The next virtual line to mark this round the world is the International Date Line, along the longitude of 180°. It lies around 600 miles to the East of New Zealand and is diametrically opposite to the Greenwich meridian! As Jules Verne explained in his novel "Around the World in Eighty Days", Franck Cammas and his men will earn the right to experience 26th March twice over...

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)

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

Cammas - Groupama

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