Tricky 48 hours ahead...and more ice

Banque Populaire down to 57S as she approaches the longitude of New Zealand

Tuesday December 13th 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 DT G3
          Inst 4hr 24 hours -    
13/12/2011 07:00 56°50.98'S 156°43.19'E 20.3 92° 20.7 26.8 27.1 649.4 11 517 2 100.20
13/12/2011 03:45 56°57.60'S 154°03.18'E 29.4 85° 29.4 28.5 27.8 668.3 11 604 2 095.90
13/12/2011 01:00 57°01.72'S 151°39.42'E 27.3 83° 29.2 25 29.1 697.8 11 683 2 091.00
12/12/2011 22:00 56°28.54'S 149°33.76'E 18.7 160° 31.6 30.5 28.9 692.8 11 760 2 092.40
12/12/2011 19:00 55°06.16'S 148°16.16'E 22.7 152° 30.9 30.6 28.9 694.8 11 828 2 097.70
12/12/2011 16:00 53°45.47'S 146°55.22'E 23.3 156° 31.9 30.1 28.7 689.9 11 901 2 094.70
12/12/2011 13:45 52°47.83'S 145°48.07'E 28 142° 31.3 29 28.8 690.5 11 961 2 083.10
12/12/2011 10:45 51°43.40'S 144°06.65'E 27.3 136° 28.8 29.5 28.2 677 12 045 2 070.60
12/12/2011 08:45 51°06.91'S 142°52.69'E 30.8 124° 31 29.5 28.3 678.5 12 103 2 055.90

Yesterday Banque Populaire dropped all the way down to 57°S, which we believe is the furthest south any boat has been at this stage of a Jules Verne Trophy attempt. Orange 2, Cheyenne and Geronimo, on her two last attempts, were all around 52-53°S at this stage.

At the latest sched, the 40m maxi-trimaran is approaching the longitude of New Zealand's South Island, and the reason for her plunge into the depths of the Southern Ocean is due to the tricky forecast that she will encounter over the next 48 hours. While she is into a good northwesterly flow at present, tonight (UTC) she will encounter an area of high pressure located to the south of New Zealand. This area of high pressure will be to her north initially but is forecast to move southeast and then east this evening directly into her path. The ballsey move would be to head into the Screaming 60s (or the Southern Ocean as properly defined) to get around the bottom of the high before heading north again, however we suspect that for reasons of caution they will probably accept a slow night tonight or may edge back to the north to key into the strong northerlies to the southeast of New Zealand. Interestingly in her detour south, Banque Populaire has also avoided the area where the seabed shallows to the south of New Zealand (the Campbell Spur Ridge) where the sea state is likely to be more choppy.

Yesterday skipper Loïck Peyron reported: "The sea state has improved. The swell is very long. We had a very difficult start of the night with a sea very short. It was pretty slow, but now it's okay. We still weren't able to avoid one wave which was quite impressive this morning, which set a new instant speed record for the boat of over 48 knots. That was certainly Newton helping us. There are ten metre waves at times, but with a very long length, close to 200, between peaks. Only in the Southern Ocean do we see periods this long. The waves move at about 30 knots, a bit like us, so you can get to surf down them which is s really nice."

Peyron warns of another ice area up ahead, although they are clear until late on Wednesday. There is one 7 km long iceberg known to be at 53-54°S. "We will go slowly to avoid that area of ​​ice," says Peyron.

In conjunction with these pitfalls to dodge, the Pacific will also be responsible for plunging the sailors and their mounts in a pot-like worrying: "We know that we will encounter difficult conditions over the next 48 hours, just after New Zealand, on the edge of an anticyclone. Then we will have very strong northerly winds. They will be crosswinds at 40 knots and it will be impossible to avoid them. It will not be very comfortable because they are conditions where you cannot slow down, or it is very difficult to. I think maybe we will sail that section under just the mast or perhaps with the mainsail and three reefs. And then all of that, there is not much wind because there is this high pressure. For now, the forecast is showing a large depression just before we reach Cape Horn. So it's not going to be easy."

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