Saturday, 13 February 2010

JVT: The Forties at Last for Groupama 3

Groupama 3 in the Forties. Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Groupama 3 reached 40° South at around midnight UTC on Thursday, but didn't start to extract herself from the Saint Helena High until midday this Friday. The average speeds will increase throughout the afternoon, reaching a `cruising' speed in excess of thirty knots! The Cape of Good Hope is in her sights...

It promises to be a lively weekend aboard the giant trimaran: the albatrosses will find it difficult to keep up with Groupama 3, which is finally on track again powering across the Southern Atlantic. The high speed train is a little behind schedule and the crew stayed at the platform a bit too long. However, the deficit in relation to the reference time should initially stabilise, before they come back to within striking distance over the remaining 2,000 miles left to cover to reach the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope! The current routing is even suggesting a passage time of under fifteen days, which would be just a few hours behind Orange 2 (between 6 and 15 hrs). Once the first cape of this Jules Verne Trophy is rounded, it's the Indian Ocean which will open up before the giant trimaran's bows...

"It wasn't an easy night: a lot of wind shifts, light breeze and calms... All of which was coloured by an atmosphere of intense fog and very wet conditions! However, things are clearing ahead of us: there's a slight SW'ly swell with a NW'ly wind and we're making headway under full mainsail and solent jib at nearly twenty-five knots. Everything is grey, as you might expect from the Southern Ocean. Conditions are pretty gentle right now though... For once, the Indian Ocean appears to be manageable so it shouldn't be too laborious a crossing" explained Lionel Lemonchois at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.

High Speed Trimaran...

Jacques Caraës on board Groupama 3 points to the wispy cirrus, a sign of wind, in the sky. Image copyright Team Groupama.

As such conditions are very good for the coming days since the sea state is favourable with little residual swell. Franck Cammas and his men are now aiming to stay ahead of a cold front, which will pursue them, generating over twenty knots of N to NW'ly wind. By conserving a fairly N'ly trajectory (remaining between 39° South and 45° South as far as the Kerguelen Islands), Groupama 3 could well benefit from these consistent conditions to make an extremely fast crossing of the Indian Ocean!

"We're expecting to stay with a NW'ly for a long while, which will mean that it shouldn't get too cold. On the other hand, the route will be a little longer as we won't drop down very far South in terms of latitude. It should be a fairly comfortable and quite a quick ride, a fair distance away from the ice! We'll be able to round offshore of the Cape of Good Hope with a N'ly wind, since another more violent front will drop down from Africa. At that point we'll finally be able to lengthen our stride... This comes as great news after a week of light conditions. Added to that it will be good to sail in the Southern Ocean again as it is always fascinating and a little agonizing. Out there we are all alone in the world, without boats and with only little land..."

The experience of the crew of Groupama 3 is an asset on this long journey towards Cape Horn as, with the exception of Bruno Jeanjean, everyone has already experienced the very special conditions associated with the Deep South, where the weather phenomena are often a lot more violent than in the North Atlantic... In any case, with this fairly organised sea forecast for several days, it'll be a pure glide in prospect for this rather mild introduction.

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)

Best passage time to the equator from Ushant
Groupama 3: 5d 15h 23' (November 2009)

Jules Verne Trophy reference time to the equator
Orange 2: 7d 02h 56' (January 2005)

Cammas - Groupama

No comments: