Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Code Red: stand-by Groupama 3

Start of stand-by in Marseilles for Groupama 3 and Franck Cammas' crew Mediterranean crossing record, Marseilles / Carthage

Memo :
- The trimaran Groupama 3 on stand-by from 6th May to 2nd June 2009 in Marseilles, in the port of Estaque
- The time to beat: 17 hours 56 minutes 33 seconds
- The current record holder: Bruno Peyron aboard the catamaran Orange II on 25th September 2004 (average speed: 25.53 knots)
- The number of nautical miles to cover: 458 miles

With respect to the programme announced for Groupama 3, from today - Wednesday 6th May - through to 2nd June, Franck Cammas and his crew are on stand-by in Marseilles, ready to set off on their attempt at the Mediterranean crossing record (Marseilles/Carthage). The seven sailors are now awaiting the most favourable weather conditions with which to begin their attack of this record spanning 458 miles. It is worth noting that the time to beat is 17 hours 56 minutes 33 seconds, a time held since September 2004 by Bruno Peyron aboard the catamaran Orange II.

The weather along the course or the `right window':There is a single imperative for setting off from the city of Marseilles: a well established Mistral which extends beyond the Southern tip of Sardinia. In order to avoid overly built-up seas, it is best to set off as a N to NW'ly wind is forming, which gradually fills as it heads along the coast of Corsica, easing progressively the further South it gets...

Renowned for its short, breaking seas when the Mistral punches the air at over 40 knots, the Mediterranean makes the first third of the course particularly feisty and tricky, before things become more manageable as far as the south of Sardinia. It's the final third which is the most uncertain though, with the Mistral adopting a W'ly element to it between Sardinia and Tunisia, which can very quickly run out of steam. As far as the last thirty miles are concerned between Cap Blanc and Cap Carthage, you can but hope the calm conditions aren't reigning and that a thermal breeze kicks in: as such it's better to arrive in daylight hours.

The viewpoint of skipper Franck Cammas: "Since we left Lorient, Brittany, on 17th March 2009, we've covered nearly 8,000 miles aboard Groupama 3. The crew know the boat well and we're ready to cast off. In order to be as fast as we possibly can be, there will be just seven of us onboard instead of the usual ten. The length of the record (17 hours) enables this as we won't require any watches to get rest. All we have to do now is to wait for a good Mistral. It's a really great record which sets off from a place where I began sailing over twenty years ago".

The course time, from Marseilles to Carthage: 458 milesThe start line lies abeam of the Pomegues lighthouse (43°15,7' N- 005°17,4' E), located at the exit from the harbour of Marseilles, on the islands of Frioul. The logical route takes you towards the Golfe de Tunis, leaving Corsica and Sardinia to port.

The finish line is positioned abeam of the Ras Quartajamah lighthouse, on Cap Carthage, near Sidi Bou Saïd (36°52.3' N - 10°20.9' E).

The departure procedures:
Code Red Stand-by from 6th May Nothing to report, no favourable weather pattern.
Code Orange Possible departure within the next 72 to 96 hours. A possible departure to the site is taking shape
Code Yellow Departure possible within the next 48 to 72 hours.Ready to head off to the site. Will be followed within the next 24 hours by a return to Code Orange or Red, or a switch to Code Green.
Code Green Departure possible within the next 24 to 48 hours. The crew on stand-by on site, ready to leave within the next 24 hours.