Saturday, November 14, 2009

Groupama 3 sees advantage over previous record halved!

[Source: Cammas - Groupama] It's probably the worst day that Franck Cammas and his crew will have to experience as they sail around the world... The advantage amassed in the North Atlantic has been reduced by nearly half, but Groupama 3 is set to power up again midway through this Saturday afternoon, before really picking up the pace from Sunday morning!

As far as Franck's concerned, this Saturday will remain engraved in his memory as a long (overly long) break! 220 miles in 24 hours, which equates to half the distance on a calm day and three times less than on a normal day... The balance in accounting terms is a terrible one: 300 miles lost. Indeed making headway at less than five knots on a thirty metre trimaran is surreal! And the situation lasted for more than half a day before the N'ly wind finally filled midway through this Saturday afternoon. Of course, things are taking a while to really fire up again but the high speeds are scheduled for Sunday morning.

Can it get any worse than that? South Atlantic, 14 November 2009. Video copyright Groupama

"Groupama 3 is in a transition phase made up of a ridge of high pressure to the East and a convergence zone off Brazil. With these two systems in play the wind is oscillating from the N, which effectively means that the trimaran is running ahead of some light winds of around six to seven knots. It isn't easy to maintain the right course and I'm in constant touch with Stan Honey, Groupama 3's navigator. You have to choose between starboard or port tack to escape the clutches of this system. We don't expect to have a steady breeze before Sunday morning: it's going to be a long wait! The lightest winds arrived on Saturday morning and as such it's been tough going for Franck Cammas and his crew. Before being carried away by a fast depression system, they're going to have to be patient until the middle of the afternoon before they can begin to get free... They're going to have to be in the right place when the low hits!" analysed Sylvain Mondon from Météo France.

Strange happenings around Saint Helena...

The shadow of Saint Helena has been influencing the giant trimaran which, since Friday evening, has been trying to get free of her clutches in a bid to hook onto the next gust of Brazilian heat. A prisoner in the evanescent breezes reigning off the remote island of Trindad, Groupama 3 has had to endure flat seas and a breeze of less than five knots... Some ideal conditions then for giving the boat a thorough check and getting in some good sleep in the gentle motion, prior to the glacial airs of the Southern Ocean!

"It's calm and we're unable to power up: we even gybed in a bid to find some speed. We've been trying out some slightly different trims which are enabling us to fly the windward float. We've also made the most of the conditions to check the whole rig, together with Loïc (Le Mignon), who climbed the mast and the starboard float since the latter had been under the water since our gybe off Madeira... We're ready to tackle the South as we've managed to get some sleep in too. The temperatures also remain pleasant... for cruising at least!" stated Franck Cammas at today's radio link up.

Animation of the weather satellite images during the 1st week of Groupama's sailing. Paris, 14 November 2009. Video copyright Groupama

Getting back on the pace

After having to endure the trials and tribulations of these teasing zephyrs, Groupama 3 was picking up speed again midway through this Saturday afternoon: the N'ly breeze is gradually filling in along the 25th parallel, and this is set to continue with the approach of a warm front which Franck Cammas and his crew will be attempting to stay ahead of until South Africa, or further still! This enforced break and this unusual trajectory in what have been some fairly random points of sail will soon be but a temporary blip in proceedings, not so much for the body which has been able to relax, nor for the minds which have been able to focus on other matters, but in terms of time pure and simple... the time lost in relation to Orange 2's record. In reality though, the giant trimaran has managed to maintain a lead of around a day over Bruno Peyron's record in 2005.

"These calm phases are a lot more pleasant in crewed configuration than sailing single-handed! There are ten of us aboard and that works out as ten times the energy... Of course speed is one thing we all seek as we are in charge of the decisions we make. In this situation though we're forced to wait and we're not particularly patient by nature! However, we are already casting our minds to the Indian Ocean and, as far as the here and now is concerned, it's a very great pleasure to be helming Groupama 3" added Thomas Coville.

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