Franck Cammas and the crew of Groupama 3 are celebrating tonight (albeit still on board their boat, as they won't be pulling into the Port du Château in Brest harbour until tomorrow morning) after setting a new Jules Verne Trophy record for sailing around the world non-stop.
This evening at 21:40:45 GMT, the 105ft trimaran passed the Créac'h lighthouse on Ushant after 48 days 7 hours 44 minutes and 52 seconds at sea (subject to ratification by the WSSRC). This represents an average speed around the world of 18.76 knots and an improvement of 2 days 8 hours and 35 minutes on the previous record time set in 2005 by Bruno Peyron and the crew of Orange 2.
Sailing with skipper Franck Cammas was American navigator Stan Honey, watch leaders Fred Le Peutrec and Steve Ravussin, helmsmen/trimmers Loïc Le Mignon, Thomas Coville and Lionel Lemonchois, and the three other crewman Bruno Jeanjean, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës. They were supported ashore by router Sylvain Mondon from Meteo France.
Groupama 3 has had an up and down ride around the world and for much of the time she was behind Orange 2's pace. Behind at the Equator their record attempt was saved when they had favourable weather coming up the north Atlantic which they sprinted up in just 6 days 10 hours and 35 minutes.
The big green trimaran set sail from the start line off Ushant on 31 January 2010 in a weather ‘window’ that was not ideal and the first part of her route alternated between some extremely fast periods and some very slow ones. In fact conditions were very varied on this record attempt, the wind rarely exceeding 40 knots, the course chosen to avoid heavy the worst seas and overly strong breezes, and this considerably increased the distance to sail: Groupama 3 ended up sailing 28,523 miles compared to the official route of 21,760 miles. Taking this distance Groupama 3 in fact averaged 24.6 knots around the world. The trickiest part of the course, both outbound as well as inbound on this occasion was the South Atlantic. On her way south she was stuck in calms and on the way back encountered prolonged headwinds.
Tonight Groupama 3 will remain at sea and will only enter the channel into the Rade de Brest at around 0830 UTC under sail, when she was do a parade around the harbour before tying up in the Port du Château at around 1000 hours UTC. A number of France’s top sailors, including Bruno Peyron have made the trip to Brest to welcome in the victorious crew.
Bruno Peyron is in Brest ready to see the crew in: "Congratulations to all the Groupama team who sailed this exceptional voyage around the world. I apreciate the combination of skills, effort and focus that is necessary to obtain such a result from the design team, to the engineers, the forecasters and routers to the crew as well as the sponsor, who knew to trust in his team even in the difficult moments. They deserve this success. They have written another beautiful chapter in the history book of Jules Verne Trophy and I am proud to have been beaten by currently the best oceanic multihull racing team. I am in a hurry to restart our team to reclaim our record. I wish them the best of luck in becoming the best team when they sail a monohull in the Volvo Ocean Race, but hope they will come to join us on the start line of The Race II."
A jubilant Vincent Lauriot Prévost of VPLP spoke about the development of Groupama 3: “The question at the gestation of the project was the following: Can we hope to break the record by reducing the size of the boat rather then creating something always bigger and more powerful? That was the challenge that Franck Cammas and team Groupama asked us to overcome together. We concentrated on maximising versatility and responsiveness, rather than on maximising power, in order to pass through the transition zones faster while trying to avoid conditions that were too violent. Groupama 3 was designed to fulfil this particular race strategy and evidently Franck and his crew responded perfectly and adopted this ideal methodology. The result is that the record was attainable despite the fact that the weather conditions were not ideal.
"Bravo Groupama for your perseverance! Bravo to the crew for this magnificent circumnavigation.”
It is the third time a racing yacht designed by VPLP has won the Jules Verne Trophy - following Sport Elec in 1997, and then once more in 2004 with Geronimo.