Groupama 3 v Orange 2
Groupama 3 v Orange 2

Closing in on Orange 2

Groupama 3 back into the North Atlantic and through the Doldrums

Monday March 15th 2010, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

 Image above courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems and PredictWind

 

Date time Lat Long Spd Crs 24 hours DTF v Orange 2
               
15 Mar 09:00 07°25.98 N 034°57.02 W 28.7 328° 502 2 939 -291.2
15 Mar 07:00 06°40.06 N 034°27.46 W 25 326° 469.4 2 979 -316.7
15 Mar 05:00 05°57.56 N 034°01.28 W 21.6 341° 449.1 3 017 -331.7
15 Mar 03:00 05°14.38 N 033°50.91 W 22.8 351° 435.8 3 058 -350.5
15 Mar 01:00 04°33.07 N 033°42.32 W 16 347° 426.7 3 098 -363.5
14 Mar 23:00 04°07.67 N 033°39.68 W 13.4 346° 448.7 3 123 -361.1
14 Mar 21:00 03°34.02 N 033°30.93 W 26.3 347° 458.4 3 155 -361.4
14 Mar 19:00 02°39.46 N 033°18.48 W 31 347° 446.8 3 208 -378.7
14 Mar 17:00 01°43.15 N 033°06.74 W 28.8 345° 439.3 3 263 -396.8
14 Mar 15:00 00°58.22 N 032°56.26 W 16.7 337° 440.1 3 307 -405.3
14 Mar 13:00 00°29.81 N 032°40.90 W 17.5 341° 459.8 3 334 -400.4
14 Mar 11:00 00°01.36 S 032°32.71 W 17.4 349° 478.8 3 365 -404.3
14 Mar 09:00 00°33.70 S 032°28.78 W 14 491 3 397 -411.6
14 Mar 07:00 00°53.44 S 032°26.20 W 8.2 343° 516.4 3 417 -398.3
14 Mar 05:00 01°21.45 S 032°26.68 W 13.7 355° 537.8 3 445 -392.7
14 Mar 03:00 01°53.00 S 032°25.72 W 11.3 552.1 3 476 -390.2
14 Mar 01:00 02°26.39 S 032°23.87 W 25.2 350° 568.8 3 509 -389
13 Mar 23:00 03°13.81 S 032°19.35 W 23.6 355° 567.8 3 557 -400.7
13 Mar 21:00 03°58.67 S 032°18.81 W 22.9 566.5 3 601 -413
13 Mar 19:00 04°43.82 S 032°22.84 W 23.6 553.9 3 647 -429.1
13 Mar 17:00 05°33.38 S 032°17.63 W 25.6 355° 527.5 3 696 -449.6
13 Mar 15:00 06°20.14 S 032°17.45 W 22.3 512.3 3 743 -472.2
13 Mar 13:00 07°09.35 S 032°17.36 W 25.6 355° 501 3 792 -492.3
13 Mar 11:00 07°59.95 S 032°18.10 W 26.3 487.1 3 842 -513
13 Mar 09:00 08°44.56 S 032°17.88 W 23.1 355° 476.8 3 887 -522.8

After a difficult passage up the South Atlantic, Franck Cammas and the crew of Groupama 3 crossed the equator at 11h 04m 53s GMT yesterday (Sunday) after 41 days 21 hours 09 minutes at sea. This time represents a deficit of 1d 02h 04m compared to the Jules Verne Trophy record holder Orange 2. This leave Cammas and his crew 8 days and 19 hours to reach Ushant and the Jules Verne finish line off the Le Creac'h lighthouse.

"Last night was laborious with some squalls developing incredibly quickly and following what was already a light tradewind," reported Cammas yesterday. "We endured some long spells with just 7 to 8 knots of wind, which was lighter than forecast. At night, without a moon for illumination, we used the radar, which enables us to see any rain squalls that may kill the wind. We did suffer a little bit as we couldn't really do what we wanted in relation to our weather forecast."

The Azores high at present is looking reasonably favourable to get them to the finish quickly on a reasonably direct course. Cammas continued: "It's true that the forecasts are encouraging for the end of our voyage. However, it's also true that there is sometimes a discrepancy between the forecasts and reality. The past few hours have been proof of that."

Last night Groupama 3 passed through the Doldrums. "I'd have preferred to cros the Doldrums by day rather than night as it would have been less active. However, fortunately Groupama 3 is fast in the light airs," continued Cammas.

He added about life on board: "The watches are pretty active. When there are manoeuvres to be performed, there are always seven of us on deck, and then just three are required for trimming: we spend our time racing between the sheets, the coffee grinder and looking at the shape of the sails with a torch. We're trying to claw back a very important few tenths of a knot and, in addition to that, this boat is very sensitive to the slightest trim adjustment: there is quite a lot to do and so we're playing with all that whilst trying to react as quickly as possible to the elements."

This morning Groupama 3 is through the Doldrums having only been slowed for a few hours overnight and is now into the northeasterly trades of the North Atlantic.

Météo France's Sylvain Mondon gave his assessment this morning: "Groupama 3 crossed the Doldrums without incident last night making irregular but relatively fast headway: her speed varied between 9 and 32 knots! The numerous stormy and violent squalls over the zone prior to the giant trimaran's arrival became less marked early in the evening and had even virtually disappeared this Monday morning. As such, at 0500 UTC, the giant trimaran was already making headway at over 5 degrees North, over 300 miles from the equator.

Franck Cammas and his crew are now in the northeasterly tradewinds, which are in the process of establishing themselves at around 15 knots. By gaining ground to the north to northwest, Groupama 3 will encounter increasingly steady tradewinds, which will enable her to make good headway towards the next obstacle at high speed. The next hard section will be rounding the western edge of the Azores High by crossing a ridge of high pressure where the light winds could again slow the progress of Franck Cammas and his crew over the next 48 hours. However, for the time the tradewind sailing promises to be fast for at least the next 36 hours with the wind on the beam."

Over the last 48 hours Groupama 3 as made huge inroads into their deficit on Bruno Peyron's Orange 2 maxi-cat. From 522 miles this is now down to 291 and is still dropping as the green maxi-tri picked up speed en route north.

At present there is an intense depression in the mid-north Atlantic at the latitude of Spain and this is disrupting the high which has been squeezed into a NW-SE orientated ridge between the depression and another at present centred over New England.

In 24 hours' time the depression over the eastern seaboard of the US has ventured out into the Atlantic, on a due easterly track and this has allowed the high to reform with its centre some 450 miles south of the Azores.

In the 48 hours time the high has moved across Europe but with a giant lobe pointing southwest out into the Atlantic and to the north of this is a monster motorway of strong southwesterlies to propel Groupama 3 directly to the finish line. It will be vital for the crew to push their boat to the max in this period because come Thursday morning another area of high pressure is establishing itself in the north Atlantic making for potentially a problematic final 48 hours to make it to the line.

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