Record pace to the Cape of Good Hope?

Banque Populaire lines up for the Doldrums + VIDEO

Saturday November 26th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

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

Date - Time Lat Long VMG Crs Spd Spd Spd Dist DTF v G3
          Inst 4hr 24 hours      
26/11/2011 08:45:00 UTC 12°17.32'N 027°12.22'W 32.8 168° 33 31.4 27.3 656 21 355 303.1
26/11/2011 04:45:00 UTC 14°22.88'N 027°37.95'W 28.6 172° 28.6 26.8 27.1 649.9 21 483 270.8
26/11/2011 00:45:00 UTC 16°12.14'N 027°44.71'W 23.1 174° 23.2 27.1 27.6 662.3 21 592 257.6
25/11/2011 20:45:00 UTC 18°01.48'N 027°26.84'W 25.4 201° 28.2 29.7 27.4 658.6 21 699 252.2
25/11/2011 16:45:00 UTC 19°53.38'N 026°36.91'W 25.4 210° 29.7 26.9 25.6 613.3 21 808 233.4
25/11/2011 12:45:00 UTC 21°23.48'N 025°29.53'W 22.1 221° 28.8 28 23.9 574.3 21 898 178.2
25/11/2011 09:45:00 UTC 22°27.35'N 024°30.09'W 24.1 228° 33.2 28 22.4 538.7 21 964 150.5

The 40m long trimaran Banque Populaire is back up to cruising speed and with this has been piling on the miles over the pace of the Jules Verne Trophy record holder Groupama 3, to the extent that at the latest sched she is now 303 miles ahead of her virtual rival. Overnight the world's fastest offshore race boat made easy meat of passing the Cape Verdes and is currently lining up for the Doldrums.

Aside from her impressive turn of speed, her course at the moment is interesting - SSE. Normally boats on Jules Verne Trophy attempts cross the Equator substantially further east than in the Volvo Ocean Race (where they have to round the Fernando de Noronha archipelago off Brazil) or the Mini Transat, where the finish is in Brazil - luring both fleets west. The most extreme easterly Equator crossing outboard was probably Bruno Peyron's Orange 1, during her successful 2002 Jules Verne Trophy attempt, at around 24°30W.

Obviously Banque Populaire has to cross the Doldrums, currently at around 5°N, but if she holds her present course she is lining up to cross the Equator at around 25°W. While this is largely of academic interest, part of the reason navigator Juan Vila and the team's shore-based router Marcel van Trieste feel that they can do this is due to the long term forecast that is one of the best we have seen in 20 odd years of following these non-stop round the world record attempts.

At present - as we have seen in the Volvo Ocean Race - the south Atlantic highs seem to be very far south and, come next weekend, the high is forecast to be in a reasonably similar position to where it is today - ie centred on the African side of the south Atlantic, south of the latitude of South Africa.

This means that while Groupama 3 was forced to shave the coast of Brazil outbound on her attempt, Banque Populaire can pretty much set a course, from today in the northern hemisphere, for the favourable winds on the west side of where the high pressure is forecast to be in a week's time, 3,000 miles to her south! If she does this she will shave many many miles off of her lap of the planet. For example while Groupama 3 was at one point just 165 miles from Brazil outbound on her attempt, at the same latitude Banque Populaire could be more than 1000 miles offshore when she passes. Unfortunately she is certain to edge slightly west as the southwesterly trades to the south of the Doldrums will, initially at least, put her on to too tight an angle.

See Brian Thompson's latest blog here


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