Thursday, November 05, 2009

Cammas and Groupama to set off at 5pm for their round-the-world record attempt

[Source: Cammas - Groupama] The crew of Groupama 3 has been in position in Brest since Wednesday evening in view of a new Jules Verne Trophy record attempt. Today Franck Cammas and his nine crew will leave the pontoon of the port of Le Château at 1300 hours to make for the start line off the Créac'h lighthouse...

On stand-by since 1st November, Groupama 3 has ended up benefiting from a favourable weather window very early on in order to head off around the world. Objective: to do better than Bruno Peyron and his men in 2005, that is a time of less than 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes, in the knowledge that a record is validated by the World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) if the time is at least a minute less than the reference time. As such the giant trimaran is setting off early in the season, which is beneficial for several reasons: first of all the days are longer in the boreal autumn, and the nights are shorter in the austral spring. Furthermore, the Antarctic ice field hasn't yet begun to break up, which slightly reduces the risk of a whole mass of icebergs and drifting ice being present, especially in the vicinity of Kerguelen and Cape Horn. Finally, during the climb up the Atlantic in December, the weather situations are generally more stable than during the low seasons, such as at the end of winter or the start of spring...

A powerful introduction
In fact, it's at the start that the weather conditions will be the harshest, until the point where the crew reach the Roaring Forties in the Southern Atlantic! Indeed, Groupama 3 will head off in a powerful NW'ly air flow off Ushant, a system linked to a disturbance which passed over Brittany on Wednesday and has generated big seas at the entrance to the English Channel. In addition, the full moon of a couple of days ago implies big springs and hence strong currents around the islands off the NW France. By setting out at around 1700 hours this Thursday 5th November, there should be less of a swell (tide turning) but it's probably under two or three reefs in the mainsail and staysail that the ten men will set sail in over 25 knots of breeze. They'll have around a dozen difficult hours ahead to escape the Bay of Biscay, before they hook onto the tradewinds already blowing along the coast of Spain and Portugal.

The sequence of systems as far as the equator is favourable with a steady NE'ly air flow as far as Cape Verde, which will enable Groupama 3 to enter into the Southern hemisphere midway through next week. Following on from that, there's a possibility of being hit by a Brazilian low which will push the giant trimaran as far as South Africa... By heading off at 1700 hours today, the crew will have to be back in the waters off Ushant before 26th December at around 0900 hours...

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