Groupama due tomorrow

Cammas heads for second Transat Jacques Vabre win

Saturday November 15th 2003, Author: Mary Ambler, Location: Transoceanic
Pos Boat DTF DTL vmg Lat Long spd crs spd crs spd crs spd dist
inst 1hr av 4hr av over 24 hrs
Open 60
1 VIRBAC 780.4 0.0 14.9 2 47.96' S 30 26.64' W 15.1 213 15.0 215 15.9 212 14.0 336.4
2 ECOVER 904.0 123.6 14.8 0 31.72' S 30 10.56' W 14.8 207 14.8 207 14.4 205 13.2 316.6
3 SILL 921.9 141.5 14.5 0 39.12' S 29 24.40' W 15.0 208 14.5 211 13.9 210 13.0 312.5
4 PRB 999.0 218.6 12.7 0 39.80' N 29 06.68' W 30.0 217 12.7 206 12.1 211 12.1 289.4
5 TEAM COWES 1042.1 261.6 11.1 2 14.80' N 30 44.16' W 11.1 194 11.2 196 11.1 198 10.3 248.4
6 VMI 1063.4 282.9 12.7 1 17.12' N 28 05.36' W 12.7 212 12.7 212 12.5 212 11.0 264.2
7 CARREFOUR PREVENTION 1160.1 379.7 10.3 3 28.80' N 28 40.00' W 11.0 212 10.3 210 10.8 208 11.1 267.4
8 GARNIER 1437.4 657.0 9.7 8 16.84' N 28 04.84' W 8.4 186 9.8 195 11.3 197 11.3 270.9
9 ARCELOR-DUNKERQUE 1474.4 694.0 10.8 6 44.16' N 23 04.56' W 11.4 196 11.3 200 9.8 195 6.6 158.9
10 LOIRE ATLANTIQUE 1604.1 823.7 9.4 9 03.88' N 23 30.72' W 9.8 203 9.8 198 10.1 198 10.3 246.2
11 60ème SUD 1862.6 1082.1 9.4 15 26.20' N 27 00.00' W 10.0 172 10.5 172 10.9 172 10.1 241.3
12 ADECCO 1936.4 1156.0 9.8 15 09.64' N 23 00.92' W 10.0 201 9.8 205 10.0 202 8.4 202.8
13 TIR GROUPE 2045.0 1264.6 10.3 16 03.48' N 20 47.64' W 13.0 200 10.9 192 10.7 190 9.1 218.3
60ft tris
1 GROUPAMA 360.8 0 16.2 8 45.08' S 34 13.60' W 13.3 209 16.8 208 20.5 209 20.4 490.1
2 BELGACOM 431.4 70.6 24.3 07 41.40' S 33 16.80' W 0 0 25 209 25.8 209 23.1 554.7
3 SERGIO TACCHINI 500.9 140.1 24.5 6 41.76' S 31 36.66' W 22.9 217 24.9 217 24.8 218 21.6 517.9
4 GEANT 524.1 163.3 23.5 6 35.92' S 32 29.08' W 24.2 212 23.5 221 23.7 216 21.9 525.5
5 BISCUITS LA TRINITAINE 554.5 193.7 21.8 5 47.92' S 32 06.32' W 22.7 206 22.3 207 22 207 20.5 492.3
6 SODEBO 611.6 250.7 25.3 5 13.24' S 31 30.48' W 23 220 25.4 216 25.6 220 21.6 517.8
7 GITANA 615.1 254.2 23.5 4 33.96' S 31 10.44' W 30.5 218 23.7 212 24 211 20.2 485.8
8 BANQUE POPULAIRE 652.2 291.3 26.3 5 12.72' S 30 30.92' W 26 210 26.7 214 26.9 214 24.1 577.3
9 SOPRA GROUP 712.9 352.1 18 3 28.28' S 31 26.00' W 19.1 200 18.2 205 19 203 17.5 420
10 FONCIA 776 415.2 23 2 07.52' S 31 13.68' W 22.2 196 23.1 202 22.3 207 20 478.8
11 BONDUELLE 794.9 434 -0.2 2 00.04' S 31 25.36' W 8.4 190 1.3 307 11.9 204 16.3 392.1
12 BAYER CROPSCIENCE 990.1 629.2 21.3 1 03.40' N 30 02.92' W 23.1 200 21.4 206 20.6 201 16.9 406.4
13 BANQUE COVEFI 1157.5 796.6 20.3 2 45.04' N 27 23.40' W 21.4 213 20.4 206 16.3 213 15.1 363.1
50ft multis
1 MOLLYMAWK 2451.2 0 3.3 23 51.44' N 21 19.04' W 9 272 9.3 273 9.1 274 5.6 134.6
Open 50s
1 HELLOMOTO 1719.1 0 9.7 12 12.12' N 25 16.68' W 11.4 174 11.3 174 12.2 177 8.9 212.6
2 STORAGETEK 1928.3 209.3 9.9 16 23.24' N 26 21.60' W 9.9 202 10 202 10.9 200 9.8 234.2
3 DEFI VENDEEN 1945.9 226.8 6.3 15 33.24' N 23 30.52' W 10 272 8.2 245 9.3 217 9.4 225.8

Franck Cammas is heading for his second consecutive victory in the multihull division of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

At 1500GMT this afternoon Cammas had 360 miles to go the Salvador de Bahia finish line where he expected at around 0800-0900 Sunday morning. Cammas is holding a lead of 70 miles over second placed Belgacom who have been hurtling down the race course averaging 23 knots over the last 24 hours compared to Groupama's 20. Up until 1500 GMT this afternoon Belgacom had covered an impressive 525.5 miles in the last 24 hours. Unusually projecting this forward has her crossing the finish line ahead of Groupama tomorrow morning! Unlikely, but we can expect a compression of the fleet as the boats encounter increasingly light breeze towards the finish. All the top boats in the trimaran fleet have been notching up daily runs of around 500 miles, the most impressive being Lalou Roucayrol and Pascal Bidegorry on board Banque Populaire who covered 577.3 miles up until 1500GMT today.

At present the boats are hurtling down the Brazilian coast line in a 15 knot ESE breeze which looks set to lighten and back slightly as they approach the finish. Down the coast the crew will be attempting to make use of the local effects of the breeze while trying to avoid the Brazilian fishing fleet and other obstacles.

Meanwhile in the Open 60 fleet Virbac's 123 mile lead looks as unassailable as ever and with 780 miles left to go looks set to cross the finish line on Monday afternoon. Skipper Jean-Pierre Dick feels more comfortable with their lead over Ecover (Golding/Thompson) now that they are cranking along at 17 knots in what appears to be stable winds all the way to the finish line.

Behind, the duel for second place has stepped up now that both Ecover and Sill (Jourdain/Thomson) are in the southern hemisphere. A comparison of the average speeds of the boats over the last 24 hours shows Ecover having the slight edge speed- wise due either to them being in better pressure or Golding's latest generation boat being faster on this point of sail.

Golding revealed yesterday that his last, light spinnaker exploded in strong winds on Tuesday, but they are tight reaching in 16-20 knots of breeze with no need for the spi right now. However this could prove critical if, as tradition has it, the final approach into Salvador is a spinnaker run.

Brian Thompson on Ecover still maintains his winning outlook on the last few days of the race: “ Virbac are just over a hundred miles ahead with 800 to go, so only a breakdown or extreme bad luck with the stable weather of the tropics in going to keep them out of first. We are pushing 100%, not just to stay ahead of Sill but also to see if we can close up the gap ahead, to be ready for any opportunity. At present the gap is about 8 hours of sailing…”

Alex Thomson on Sill, of course, hopes the lack of sail wardrobe downwind will play to their advantage: “Well, it’s going to be a drag race all the way to the finish! Right now, Ecover is 80m to leeward of us and just in front, but she is going to have to sail a hotter angle to stay on the direct route, which is not far from upwind, as the breeze is from the SSE. For Ecover to be on the inside now is not going to be such a good position but she’s keeping up a good speed at the moment. Either she will come over towards our course, which will be slower, or more likely, she’ll sail up the coast where the winds may be freer as they should be more from the East, but they’ll definitely be lighter. It’s all in the lap of the wind gods now…”

Only 78m behind PRB (Riou/Beyou) is controlling the route, with VMI (Josse/Autissier) keeping the pressure up 66m behind and over to their east on a freer angle, and Team Cowes 44m behind and in the West. The sudden rise on Friday of Australian-British duo of Nick Moloney and Sam Davies has unfortunately fallen again as they have had to grapple with Doldrums’ squalls over the last 24 hours. Sam Davies remains positive: “We are just heading south tight fast reaching with the Solent and one reef in main. The wind is settled right now and should last a couple more hours before the next bank of cloud reaches us. The gradient wind has been really good and hopefully will see us through the Doldrums. The boats ahead are doing okay and they will be in the same conditions as us. The west has paid off so far as we keep ahead of VMI and as long as we keep fast now we might come out ahead of PRB...”

And finally…congratulations to Jeremie Beyou, who spent Thursday night following the birth of his first baby, a boy named Achille!

For the Open 50 fleet in their wake the Doldrums is looking as hazardous as ever - 300 miles of calms and squalls - not what the doctor ordered. Leaders Humphreys and Larsen on Hellomoto have a 209m lead but as we saw with Virbac, this could crumble if the weather gods are unkind: "We used our route through the Verdes to grab a little more westing”, said Humphreys, “but there is just no decent path through the Doldrums below 31 degrees. If we were to try to go above that, we would be faced with a horrendous beat on the other side, all the way to Salvador. So all we can really do right now is point Hellomoto south and try to keep her moving through it. But it means that Storagetek and Défi Vendéen are a real threat. Our 200 mile lead could be eaten away in just a couple of days should we become becalmed and they strike lucky.”

WEATHER

Now in both Open 60 classes the race is about speed as Virbac and Groupama both hold a lead of over 100m and are in the established Trade winds of the Southern Hemisphere. However, the race is not over yet and the leaders are having to make their decision as to whether to skirt the Brazilian coastline in search of local winds or to stay offshore until the final approach to Salvador. Could Groupama be taking a risk with the inshore option as they are a couple of degrees further in the West than the pack of four trimarans in pursuit? The weather experts prefer the offshore route – we shall see what happens.

For those still to cross the Southern Hemipshere, mainly the monohulls, it will prove interesting to see if the more Easterly position pays as it should mean a better, faster sailing angle to the wind direction. The Trades are established all the way to the finish, and so the weather is unlikely to do anything unpredictable. Only the local effects of the wind in the final 3 hours of the race could shake anything up given that some boats are racing neck and neck into Brazil.

To read the latest on board accounts - see page 2

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