Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Squall spotting for Groupama 3

On 2 Mar 2010 at 10h0 0UTC: Distance from finish 8,409 miles / Advance 201 miles

[Source: Groupama 3] Approaching landfall on the South American continent is always one of the trickiest phases to negotiate on a Jules Verne Trophy: Groupama 3 is no exception to this rule and she is having to deal with a train of very active lows. Meantime the gale is dictating a slower pace...

In W to NW'ly winds of over thirty knots, gusting to 37-40 knots, the giant trimaran has been in a difficult sector of a fast, deep and active disturbance since Monday morning, which is rolling along towards Drake's Passage. This Tuesday, the cold front is catching up with Franck Cammas and his nine crew, whilst this low is slowing up (25 knots rather than yesterday's 45 knots) as it bends its course around to the SE. As such Groupama 3 can bend her course round to the E as she waits for the wind to shift round to the W then the SW. At that point she'll be able to put in a gybe to directly line herself up with Cape Horn.

Franck Cammas reports from onboard Groupama 3. Cape Horn, 2 March 2010. Video copyright Groupama

Heavy seas

"On starboard tack making towards the SE, the wind won't ease significantly before Wednesday morning and the seas will remain heavy until Thursday since Groupama 3 will be just behind the zone swept along by the strong gale. Franck Cammas and his crew will have to watch that they don't join up with the system, by maintaining reasonable speeds. These speeds will be lower that the giant trimaran's true speed potential until Thursday morning when the seas will become calmer and the system definitively evacuates towards the SE" analyses Sylvain Mondon from Météo France.

As a result Groupama 3 is set to put in a gybe late this Thursday morning or midway through the afternoon, whilst slowing off the pace to an average of less than thirty knots. Over the past 24 hours, the giant trimaran has been very quick, covering 750 miles across the ground... However, it's now a question of making the approach to Drake's Passage on calmer seas and avoiding being caught off guard by the line of squalls associated with the cold front. As such this configuration isn't favourable for maintaining a significant lead over Orange 2's time, Groupama 3 just 200 miles ahead now... However, Franck Cammas and his men will once again be able to set a direct course for the Hard Cape, whilst Bruno Peyron and his crew had to climb towards the NE at this stage of their victorious round the world.



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