Light winds or ice

A fast day ahead for Banque Populaire, but then some hard decisions

Wednesday February 2nd 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Image above courtesy of Expedition Navigation Systems and PredictWind. See Brian Thompson's updates from on board here

Date Lat Long Spd Crs Spd Spd Dist DTF v G3
      Instant   4 hr av 24 hour aver      
02/02/2011 09:00:00 UTC 40°09.01'S 032°02.14'W 32.5 136° 34.4 29.3 703.3 19 370 -68.3
02/02/2011 07:00:00 UTC 39°21.49'S 033°05.63'W 36.5 134° 34.6 28.2 676.3 19 436 -120
02/02/2011 04:45:00 UTC 38°25.24'S 034°15.22'W 31.5 143° 34.8 26.8 642 19 512 -189.3
02/02/2011 03:00:00 UTC 37°37.36'S 035°01.86'W 35.7 139° 33 25.5 613.1 19 569 -224.2
02/02/2011 01:00:00 UTC 36°44.84'S 036°01.67'W 31.9 145° 30.9 24.1 579.1 19 637 -262.2
01/02/2011 23:00:00 UTC 35°49.62'S 036°37.06'W 32.3 160° 31 22.4 537.3 19 692 -286.4
01/02/2011 21:00:00 UTC 34°52.79'S 037°06.07'W 29.7 152° 31.4 20.9 501.5 19 744 -310.6
01/02/2011 19:00:00 UTC 33°56.39'S 037°39.12'W 32.5 159° 31.6 19.2 461.8 19 799 -338.1
01/02/2011 17:00:00 UTC 32°56.90'S 038°04.73'W 33.4 170° 31 17.2 413.9 19 851 -363.1
01/02/2011 15:00:00 UTC 31°54.03'S 038°16.69'W 32.6 176° 25.6 15.2 365.8 19 897 -381.5
01/02/2011 13:00:00 UTC 30°53.50'S 038°21.47'W 24.1 190° 17.7 13.3 320.2 19 937 -399.7
01/02/2011 11:00:00 UTC 30°11.87'S 038°21.42'W 10.9 159° 17.7 12.8 306.2 19 963 -405.6
01/02/2011 09:00:00 UTC 29°44.10'S 038°37.13'W 23.3 172° 20.1 12.9 309.4 19 991 -417.4

And they're off again... After three days 'waiting in the station for the expression train', as Brian Thompson puts it in his blog, since yesterday lunchtime Banque Populaire has been constantly averaging speeds in the early 30s as she keys into the northerly winds between the depression to her southwest and the high to her northeast. As a result their deficit on pace setter Groupama 3 will have evaporated by lunchtime today - already down to 68 miles from 417 at the same time yesterday. 

However. This being the unpredictable South Atlantic, all is not quite as simple as it might be. While Banque Populaire could very easily turn in an 800 mile day over the next 24 hours in these conditions, unfortunately the depression isn't moving fast enough east for her to achieve this. Also if she wants to stay in the optimum breeze, this will take her a long way south, towards the mid-40°Ss and this increases the risk of encountering ice (bear in mind that to minimise this risk the Barcelona World Race organisers have kept their boats north of 40°S). The alternative is turning east which will take her back into the high and more light winds.

As skipper Pascal Bidegorry put it yesterday: "There are anticyclonic centres to be found around the 42° 43°S, or exactly the latitudes where we wish to sail. That is a large problem because our routings takes us all the way down to 55°S, which causes us a slight concern (!) because there is a gathering of icebergs on approach of the Cape of Good Hope, at 44°S."

In fact looking further ahead then Banque Populaire will have no alternative than getting nailed by the high again. With no other alternatives it is likely that she will head for the next pressure and this lies in a depression forming to the west of South Africa later this week. This is moving south into the Roaring Forties over the course of Saturday and it is likely that the big tri will aim her three bows towards the favourable winds on the north side of this. This will be doubably beneficial as it will take them away from the ice danger zone.

Anyway, as the crew point out - don't expect any records to be broken between the Equator and the Cape of Good Hope.

 

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