Sunday, March 7, 2010

Jules Verne Trophy: A hellish tack

On a perfectly rectilinear course since rounding Cape Horn, Groupama 3 is continuing her ascent of the Southern Atlantic by cleverly limiting the haemorrhage of miles lost in relation to the Jules Verne Trophy champion. Furthermore, they are in no way losing sight of the fact that they will have to battle all the way to the end and that they must remain in great shape to do so.

As announced a few days ago by weather adviser Sylvain Mondon, the medium NNW'ly wind is reigning implacably over what is a much calmer ocean. Sailing on just a single hull, the central hull just kissing the water, Groupama 3 is really showing off her versatility under the leadership of a crew which doesn't have a minute to lose. And though, over the past twenty four hours, Franck Cammas and his band have conceded 170 miles to Orange and are now positioned 100 miles behind her, the mindset remains, more than ever before, a conquering one.

"We haven't tacked for a very long time and, from this evening, we'll be making two or three changes of tack to gently make headway to the North. It's at that point that we'll lose the greatest distance in relation to Orange, but we're left with no other alternative if we are to locate a system which is more favourable to our progress. The fact that things are very tight as regards the record time is highly motivating and we know we've got a real battle on our hands! The general atmosphere is as great as ever and that's what makes this crew so good. The "Bar des Sports" is just one of the opportunities onboard, where everyone has a chance to get together. We're all really driven to do better and finish this record with flying colours so we can be proud on our arrival off Ushant! Yesterday evening we had a great time at the Bar des Sports and were treated to two duck breasts that Loïc had stashed away with two tiny little bottles of red wine. It was a delicious, unforgettable moment!" enthused Jacques Caraës during the daily radio link-up with Groupama's Jules Verne HQ.

At the risk of sounding like a famous football coach, it's clear that on both a tactical and technical level, Groupama 3's crew are coming out of the orangey-red zone with a view to finding a more `chlorophyll freshness':

"I was dozing in my bunk on stand-by watch and as it was time to wake up, so it's a good moment to talk to you. That way I'll be wide awake to go up on deck. The water is now 15° this morning, so it's beginning to get up to a nice temperature! We're making headway close on the wind with a 14 knot breeze on very comfortable seas. Life is completely different today and it's done us a world of good. It's affected everyone as we've all fallen into a very deep sleep. We were all in need of it as we were very fatigued after the sailing conditions in the Pacific. We've all recovered well in readiness for tackling the Atlantic, with a boat that's in equally fine fettle, which augurs well for the next stage!" concludes Jacques.

The perfect solution
Tonight, just to have a change from the routine which they're slowly slipping into aboard, the succession of helmsmen will alter course to the left and then, a few hours later, to the right, thanks to the wind variations along the western edge of the zone of high pressure. As such the wind strength and direction, as well as the barometric pressure will be navigator Stan Honey's principle points of reference in trying to limit the extra distance to travel as much as possible...

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