Friday, March 19, 2010

Groupama 3 goal: Ushant

Groupama 3's trajectory seems more rectilinear than recent days and, if all goes to plan, Franck Cammas and his men shouldn't have to put in any more gybes. However, they will have to constantly adapt the sail area as the N'ly wind is forecast to be very unstable.

It's the final home straight (or nearly) for the giant trimaran as this morning the wind shifted round from the SW to the N and then the NW as it eased. Indeed, by approaching the centre of the low, which is shifting across towards Europe, the wind temporarily dropped to around ten knots, but this reduction in pace proved to be fleeting. Nevertheless, it will take another good day at sea before Groupama 3 makes Ushant.

"The N'ly wind is rather weak at the moment, but we're ahead of a front which is bringing us more breeze. We will certainly be on the direct course, but the sheets will be just slightly eased for the vast majority of the remaining distance to the finish. We're hoping that it will be more of a beam wind than close-hauled sailing as we'll be faster! We'd be able to make thirty knots rather than fifteen to seventeen knots... We're continuing to make headway in a SW'ly swell and it's the sea state above all that will dictate our speed, especially if we are close-hauled. The low is going faster than us so it will provide us with a N'ly wind as far as the finish, since it is shifting across towards Brittany, even though it is likely to deteriorate with a fair number of squalls" indicated Franck Cammas during the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Brest.

As such the speeds on the water are fairly variable which makes it hard to predict at what point the giant trimaran will complete this circumnavigation, though it is likely to take less than 49 days. It is inevitable that the last few miles are always a testing time for a crew, who have amassed a month and a half on the water, which makes the motto associated with the island that guards the NW tip of Brittany particular poignant today: "Whoever sees Ushant sees their goal..."

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