Groupama into the lead

African coast comes good for Franck Cammas' team in the Volvo Ocean Race

Thursday November 10th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

Chart above courtesy of Expedition/Tasman Bay Navigation Systems and PredictWind.

Franck Cammas' fledgling Volvo Ocean Race team on Groupama pulled into the lead on leg one last night at 1900 GMT. At the time they were clearly into the first of the trades, their boat speed the highest in the fleet at 13 knots. For a while they were able to sail down the course, until they found themselves dead downwind again and through the early hours of this morning, as they have been passing the Canary Islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, so they have had to start gybing downwind once again.

For the westerly trio the way south is currently barred by a ridge of high pressure so all three boats are taking the opportunity to get yet more westing in. With the wind turning southwesterly so at around midnight Puma and Telefonica, who are quite literally alongside each other match racing at the moment, were forced to tack on to a course just south of due west which they have been maintaining throughout the early hours of this morning.

The forecast for the westerly group is looking by no means easy with localised bubbles of high pressure popping up all over the race course to their south until a northerly flow from a depression a long way to the north establishes itself tomorrow afternoon.

Throughout this time Franck Cammas and his Groupama crew look set to be putting valuable miles in the bank, not only with constant favourable wind, but closer to the great circle. Could this prove to be the winning play of leg one? Already Groupama is 88 miles ahead of Puma and Telefonica and 174 in front of Camper in term of distance to the turning mark at Fernando de Naronha.

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