Saturday, February 13, 2010

Groupama 3: A crazy day…

Having covered nearly 720 miles over the past 24 hours, Groupama 3 is tracing an impressively straight wake at an average speed in excess of 30 knots… This ticking off of the miles bodes well for the crew’s bid to make up part of their deficit on the Jules Verne Trophy reference time as they round the Cape of Good Hope.

Indeed it’s a studious and concentrated atmosphere which marked the start to the weekend to the South of Tristan de Cunha: in a matter of hours the situation has changed radically aboard Groupama 3, since the tricky exit from the Saint Helena High at the end of the week, has now given way to breakneck speeds ahead of a cold front, which is trucking along at 35 knots… The astounding average speeds that Franck Cammas and his nine crew are making are, of course, the result of a stable wind, though the fairly slight, well organised seas are an added bonus. Such conditions are down to the crew remaining ahead of the cold front, which they will have to continue to do for as long as possible, in order to maintain this perfectly straight trajectory and this exceptionally fast tempo…

“Since this morning, we’ve been sailing with two reefs in the mainsail and solent in a NW’ly wind of between 28 and 30 knots, but with very slight seas… Right now we’re clocking up an average speed of 35 knots! The atmosphere has got much damper: it’s grey, it’s wet, but it’s not cold yet” indicated Bruno Jeanjean at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama’s Race HQ in Paris.

Unfinished business

The longitude of the Cape of Good Hope is around just 800 miles ahead of the giant trimaran now. At this pace, she will have passed the Greenwich meridian between 2100 and 2300 hours UTC this Saturday. Following on from that she may even succeed in crossing the longitude of the first cape of this round the world by sunset on Sunday!

“I don’t take the helm in conditions like the ones we have today. There were times on the descent of the Atlantic where I had the opportunity on flat seas with very nice conditions. The allotted helmsmen are driving her along admirably... I am incredibly happy to be aboard because the shore crew have done a superb job to ensure we were able to set off again. The whole crew has remained particularly motivated and we know we have unfinished business down here now, which we’re keen to resolve!”

By way of comparison with the Jules Verne Trophy reference time, Groupama 3 has had a excellent day with 719 miles on the speedo, while Orange 2, which was in one of her fastest phases of the round the world, ‘only’ pulled back 680 miles in relation to the optimum course! As such the deficit has dropped by forty miles over the past 24 hours… And despite even more impressive average speeds than those of the Americans and Swiss in Valencia on Friday afternoon, the crew was paying close attention to how the first race of the Cup was panning out.

“For the first match of the America’s Cup yesterday, the organisation onboard didn’t change. However, we did have one ear a little more open to what was going on in the cabin: certain bits of news came in which led us to believe that something was going to happen, but we quickly understood that the result of the match was decided pretty quickly…” -