Monday, February 8, 2010

Slow rotation... Groupama 3

2010/02/08 - 16h19
Jules Verne Trophy
The position of the Saint Helena High isn't favouring progress towards the Cape of Good Hope: Groupama 3 has been forced to pick out a course to the SSW before slowly straightening out her trajectory to the South this Monday afternoon... As a result her lead over the reference time is diminishing.

Franck Cammas and his nine crew are still holding back a little in view of the grib files, which aren't making the entry into the Indian Ocean very clear! The high pressure in the Southern Atlantic is forming a barrier off Argentina and forcing the giant trimaran to trace a course way out to the West, along the Brazilian coast. Just 150 miles from shore, Groupama 3 made good headway over the weekend though, before the tradewinds switched round onto a more N'ly track during the course of last night.

"On deck it's really pleasant with glorious sunshine and a light breeze under large gennaker... Down below though, it's an oven! We found it difficult to sleep last night as it was stifling. We're finally diving southward now as the wind is gradually shifting round to the NE. The breeze is fluctuating but last night we were still able to sail faster than planned: we were regularly making headway at over thirty knots. As such we're a little bit ahead in relation to the weekend's routing. We lost a bit of ground this morning as things have calmed down: we're making headway at between twenty and twenty-five knots. The wind began to rotate last night between the clouds. We're soon going to have to gybe when the breeze backs rounds to the North..." explained Lionel Lemonchois during the radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris at 1130 UTC.

Rendez-vous with a front
Offshore of Vitoria this Monday afternoon, Franck Cammas and his men will have to wait another day or two before they can straighten the helm! It's not yet clear whether they'll be able to hook onto a cold front forming over Porto Alegre as it shifts across towards Africa. However, if they make contact at the right time, the descent towards the Cape of Good Hope will be extremely fast. As a result there is a considerable amount of work in prospect, as much on deck as at the chart table, in order to extract themselves from this tricky section as quickly as possible.

"We're not going to be able to hang a left straightaway! We'll probably have to link together a series of gybes almost as far down as the Roaring Forties before we can set a course for the East... We're on track to make a sizeable detour to hook onto a front in the South however, if we miss it, we'll be two days behind on passing Cape Leeuwin! We're going to have to pull out all the stops. The situation is changing from one grib file to the next so it's still hard to know when we're going to round the first cape, Good Hope. There's going to be very little in it..."

In any case Groupama 3 should pass the symbolic 20,000 miles to go mark on this Jules Verne Trophy from noon on Tuesday. Indeed somewhat paradoxically, the giant trimaran is really lengthening her stride, but is losing ground on the reference time: by being forced to distance herself from the direct route, the 600 mile average across the water translates into a distance of just 305 miles VMG...

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)
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