Cape Horn by Tuesday-Wednesday

Currently tackling an awkward depression, so Banque Populaire must head north to avoid ice

Thursday December 15th 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 DTL
          Inst 4hrs 24hrs      
15/12/2011 08:00 56°19.64'S 170°26.75'W 26.5 81° 28.9 27.3 22.1 531.6 10 441 1 885.60
15/12/2011 05:00 56°34.15'S 172°54.73'W 28.4 85° 28.8 27.9 21.1 505.3 10 519 1 896.00
15/12/2011 02:00 56°37.36'S 175°29.35'W 29.4 89° 29.6 25.9 19.8 474.1 10 604 1 900.00
14/12/2011 22:45 56°39.16'S 178°12.93'W 20.4 89° 20.5 24.2 19.1 457.7 10 694 1 901.30
14/12/2011 20:00 56°42.93'S 179°56.16'E 27.2 92° 27.3 27.5 19 455.3 10 754 1 919.10
14/12/2011 16:45 56°41.29'S 177°02.11'E 22 92° 22.1 19.9 17.7 423.9 10 850 1 909.70
14/12/2011 14:00 56°38.62'S 175°12.36'E 13 91° 13.1 11.8 17.6 421.7 10 910 1 923.60
14/12/2011 11:00 56°54.17'S 174°17.83'E 10 48° 14.8 13.6 19.9 476.5 10 938 1 970.80
14/12/2011 09:00 57°18.41'S 173°40.12'E 4.2 16° 19 15.9 20.9 502.5 10 957 2 004.00

OK. We may have been a little optimistic about Banque Populaire's prospects in her Pacific crossing in our report yesterday. The crew have since described yesterday's upwind conditions on board, as they awaited the onset of the depression heading in their direction from the west of New Zealand, as being the most uncomfortable they have experienced to date on their attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy. 

The rapid movement of the depression southwest, the crew compared to being similar to that of a tropical depression, which form in the warmer parts of the Pacific and then arc around to the east, merging with the flow of weather systems further south - one such system that helped claim the life of French Canadian Jerry Roufs in these waters in the 1996 Vendee Globe.

Overnight this depression has taken up residence to their south and if the GRIB files are correct has them at present close to the front associated with this depression. Yesterday afternoon the crew had already changed down to two reefs in the main and the small jib and skipper Loick Peyron was anticipating 40-45 knots as the warm front passed over and possibly dropping sail altogether and sailing under wingmast alone. Already the crew were attempting to keep their 40m long maxi-trimaran under control, their foot on the break, to prevent her sailing too fast, thereby relieving the potential for extreme loads on the boat.

Since they started to feel the effects of the depression mid-afternoon yesterday so the boat speed has crept up again but they have managed to keep the speed down to the mid-20s. So whereas under normal circumstances they would be able to keep up with this system as it moves east at around 700-800 miles/day, it looks like the front will pass Banque Populaire and they will be forced to continue keeping the speed down in the confused seas behind the front. As a result by tomorrow morning it looks like they will fall off the back of the system.

"It's going to be complicated!" Peyron observed yesterday afternoon. "First the warm front, which will be particularly sensitive to cross tonight and tomorrow. Then we will have that we return to the north enough to avoid a huge area of ​​icebergs. Then hopefully, we'll reach Cape Horn in six or seven days." According to Peyron moving north to avoid the ice will force them into a zone of high pressure with little wind. "The difficulty will be to avoid the icebergs on the one hand, but to be south enough to find wind. So we will have a fun slalom between the ice and no wind."

So Cape Horn not by Monday but more like Tuesday or Thursday.

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