Thursday, July 30, 2009

Onward to the front!

Blue boat and white track is from 2007 record. Green is there position today.
Franck Cammas and his nine crew are perfectly positioned on the transatlantic record route. At noon this Thursday after fourteen hours at sea, Groupama 3 was situated between Halifax (Nova Scotia) and Sable Island, maintaining an average speed since the start of over 32 knots. To reach Lizard Point in under 4 days 03 hours 57 minutes 54 seconds remains totally within their grasp...

Franck Cammas was in fine fettle this Thursday noon for the first radio link-up organised with the shore-based HQ in Lorient, at which point the green trimaran had already covered over 450 miles since setting out from New York on Wednesday at 20h 12' 16'' UT. "We're sailing downwind on flat seas with 20 to 25 knots of breeze. We've had to make a few sail changes since leaving the Ambrose Light, hoisting more sail aloft this morning as we set the gennaker. We're trying to go fast by heading up to accelerate.

The crew is well aware of the score during such record attempts and the conditions aren't overly difficult: we've been able to rest whilst maintaining a high average speed. Our watch system is in place at the moment (0930 hours UT) Fred Le Peutrec, Lionel Lemonchois and Ronan Le Goff are on deck; Steve Ravussin, Bernard Stamm and Olivier Mainguy are on stand-by; myself, Loïc Le Mignon and Bruno Jeanjean are resting. As for Stan Honey, he is off-watch so he can take up position at the chart table and help us on deck during manoeuvres.

The trajectory as far as Lizard Point isn't as clear as all that: after Newfoundland we're going to have to choose between a route which sees us heading up a bit or bearing away a little, which has repercussions on the sail configuration. We're going to take that decision after Cap Race... The crux of the matter still centres on the end of the course as the front looks to want to drag its heels as we approach the goal."

Sylvain Mondon from Météo France, Groupama 3's onshore router, also explained the reasoning behind this start time, as Pascal Bidégorry and his crew opted to set out from the Ambrose Light two and a half hours later (Wednesday 29th July at 22h 47' 42'' UT): "Last night, a line of squalls passed over New York generating fairly strong S'ly winds (25-30 knots), which enabled us to set off a little earlier than planned. This decision is supported by the fact that within a few hours of the departure time, the course time was the same: taking the start a little earlier enables us to have a little room for manoeuvre in relation to the depression system which will accompany the trimaran after Newfoundland. A cold front has formed over Canada and will traverse the Atlantic as far as the British mainland: Groupama 3 will catch up with it as she approaches the Labrador current and keep slightly away from the front. As such it will be easier to control the trajectory by staying a little closer to the great circle route (direct route). It's a very good weather window as it prevents us from extending the course whilst remaining on the same tack." - Find all the latest news from the Groupama trimarans at: