Thursday, March 4, 2010

Banque Populaire V

Banque Populaire V postpones its attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy to fall 2010

Since mid-November 2009, Pascal Bidegorry and his team have been looking at every weather opportunities to make an attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. Despite this stand-by period, the Team Banque Populaire has not managed to find the proper conditions has thus decided to reschedule their crewed handed round the world attempt to next fall.

The disappointment is huge. Even though some weather forecasts were seriously considered for a while, some major deterioration of those systems made Pascal Bidegorry and his team forced to wait longer. Ronan Lucas, Team Manager, comes back on the decision of putting an end to the stand-by period: “The disappointment is huge even if we are only postponing it. Until mid-December we were quite demanding, and we were only looking at conditions that could at least bring us at equal time with Orange 2 at the Cape of Good Hope. We had three months ahead of us and it was normal to expect something better and put all the chances on our side to, first complete the round but also to achieve a performance. Then we watched the slightest opportunity, as we wanted to leave, but there were none, except “boat-breaking” ones and no way to leave under those conditions! We did not want to leave either in a spirit of “there we go, we’ll see what happens” neither with “double or quits” conditions.

We are responsible for this project and we do not want to jeopardize it. The shame is that we were sure to get an opportunity to leave even with less favorable conditions, but nothing turned up since December 15th. The boat was launched a year and half ago, the project is still new and we are lucky to have some time ahead and to be chasing records until 2012.”
No regrets regarding weather conditions

Responsibility therefore prevails today, even though the Maxi Banque Populaire V’s crew is disappointed. It is sure that everybody, crew, team and the public, would have liked to see the maxi trimaran chasing the Trophy, however, as Pascal Bidegorry reminds: “our project is still new, and we will chase the Jules Verne trophy this year, the soonest. We have a schedule to follow, and have some public relations campaigns planned in the Mediterranean. We really could not go further in term of deadline. The only regret I have is that we did not get to sail this winter and that was the goal of the whole work provided by the team beforehand. We will carry on the work to prepare at its best our departure in a few months with even more determination.”
An extraordinary winter: weather analysis by Marcel van Triest, navigator of the Maxi Banque Populaire V

“We’ve had an exceptional winter in the Atlantic basin. For January for instance, we have to go back as far as 1985 to find similar conditions and we have to go even further back in time to find similar conditions to the ones encountered in December. This has resulted in very wet and windy conditions in the South of Europe as shown by the bad weather and flooding in places such as: Canary Islands, Madeira and Spain. Cold and snowy conditions in places likes England and the Southern United States are further examples of this type of winter.

One of the symptoms of this 2009 winter was the very southerly path of low pressure systems normally expected around the British Isles. This winter they rather came via the Azores and Madeira to continue their journey in the Mediterranean Therefore, the famous Azores high pressure area could never take hold and the tradewinds that depend on this have been weak and irregular. This situation has persisted throughout the winter. These tradewinds were not only weak and very far south; they were also difficult to reach. Most of the “mouse hole” situations we have looked at were forcing us to sail around low pressure systems off Portugal or the Canary Islands. The subsequent transition from these low pressure systems to the tradewinds was difficult at best.

Our philosophy for the stand-by was: get out of the gulf of Biscay in manageable conditions, reach the Canary Islands in quick conditions and then make a not too painful transition to the tradewinds. We can - at most - have a fairly good idea on the weather for the first eight to ten days. Having full uncertainty for the remaining 80% of the course, our philosophy was to arrive in Cape Town with an advantage over Orange 2. Unfortunately we did not find the right conditions for that. Furthermore with the known presence of ice quite far North this year, we could not afford to arrive in the Southern Ocean without the necessary “cushion” to sail a longer distance to avoid these dangers. Orange 2 did not have that same constraint at the time and she could sail a shorter route.

As for now, leaving for example on March 15-th, means that we would pass (if all goes well) Cape Horn in late April. To give an equivalent in terms of latitude, this would correspond, in our hemisphere, to sail in Scotland late October. You can be lucky if summer drags on a bit, but it could also be very challenging. Late in the season like this everything becomes more severe in the South and at Cape Horn there is no option to take another route. Somewhere, we need to know where to set the limits and not risk getting into a potentially dangerous situation.”

One certain thing is that, next fall, it is with a desire and an increased motivation that Pascal Bidégorry and his crew will return on an attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. In the meantime, they will continue their training, as it must be said, this adventure’s departure is only postponed... -