Thursday, 25 February 2010

JVT: Groupama 3 Carried along by the swell...

Franck Cammas at the helm of Groupama 3. Image copyright Team Groupama.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

On track to pass between New Zealand and Auckland Island, Franck Cammas and his nine crew have eased off the throttle slightly to negotiate a slightly more chaotic sea. After picking up the record for the Indian Ocean crossing on Wednesday morning (8d 17h 39'), Groupama 3 is plunging towards the SE, regularly extending her lead over the reference time.

There is not a lot at the entrance to the Pacific Ocean, though there is a swell... A fine W'ly swell which is enabling Groupama 3 to continue to lengthen her stride, pushed by a twenty-five knot SW'ly wind. The climate is still mild and (at last) there is a seascape to contemplate as the clouds have given way to a starry sky.

"We don't need to push the boat too hard because it would serve no purpose to be too quick due to the weather situation which awaits us over the next few days. In addition, the seas aren't very organised following the wind shift and we're sailing with one reef in the mainsail and small gennaker" said Franck Cammas at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.

A record along the way

Naturally the skipper of Groupama 3 was happy to have broken their first WSSRC record on this Jules Verne Trophy (from the Agulhas Cape to the South of Tasmania: 8d 18h 39'). Most important of all though is the 200 mile lead the crew are boasting at the entrance to the Pacific, which has resulted in them tracking nearly half a day ahead of Orange 2's course. The midway point of this round the world has also been crossed this Wednesday, at around 0630 UTC, which means that Franck Cammas and his men are closing inexorably on the finish now...

"This record for the Indian Ocean crossing is a great surprise: Groupama 3 is a boat which isn't supposed to be quicker on this particular section of the course. However, the weather did favour us for two thirds of that ocean... However, we've got to get to Cape Horn yet and it's a long old haul!"

With twenty-five knots of W to SW'ly breeze, Franck Cammas and his nine crew will stay behind a low for several days as it fills, but it will remain ahead of the giant trimaran. In addition a front is trailing them at the moment, which is causing the NW'ly winds to rotate. As such conditions are favourable for making headway on more organised seas, pushed along by this new downwind breeze throughout a large chunk of the Pacific Ocean.

Approaching New Zealand

"Since we gybed, the sailing conditions have been harsher: we're behind a front but at least the skies have cleared with a few squalls, a beautiful moon and a starry vault. The temperatures are mild and it's pleasant: there are some stunning lights in the sky. It makes a nice change from the grey that has coloured the past few days, though it's still night here... The sea is a bit messy due to a depression generating E'ly wind over the zone a couple of days ago: the seas are still steep and though they're not very high, they are chaotic. We're taking care not to put too much pressure on our steed..."

Once round New Zealand, the first section of the Pacific promises to be relatively mild, even though there are a few icebergs quite far North. Fortunately Groupama 3 should be able to leave them to port and slip along beneath them. With the sea temperature remaining fairly warm, there is a decreased risk of encountering such phenomena, especially as Franck Cammas and his men have requested satellite images of the danger zones along the scheduled route towards Cape Horn, between 53° and 54° South.

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)

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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