Franck CAMMAS (FRA) and his nine crew must cross this same line after rounding the three capes before 15 March at 00:09:21 UTC in order to better the round the world record, which currently stands at 50 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes and 4 seconds.
The maxi trimaran crossed the start line just off the Créac'h lighthouse in a fine northwesterly breeze of around 15 knots with one reef in the main and staysail. Groupama 3 is already powering along at over 25 knots bound for Cape Finisterre, which it is likely to reach by the end of today. The weather forecast is indicative of a fine descent for this first day at sea since the breeze should rapidly clock round to the north as it fills to 20 knots, where it will then reach over 30 knots as it shifts round to the east. The first 24 hours should therefore enable CAMMAS and his crew to get as far as Lisbon by Friday morning.
Fifteen years after the first victorious attempt by Bruno PEYRON (FRA) on Commodore Explorer, following the tracks left by Phileas FOGG and Jean PASSEPARTOUT ("Round the world in eighty days" by Jules Verne), CAMMAS and his crew will attempt to circumnavigate the globe (26,100 miles) via the three capes in less than 50 days. Encompassing the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans again, in truth the voyage represents a distance on the water of between 25,000 and 27,000 miles due to the meteorological patterns and the presence of ice to the North of the Antarctic. As a result Groupama 3 is aiming for an average speed of over 23 knots, which is over 550 miles a day for more than a month and a half!
In 1993, PEYRON and his four crew just managed to go under the 80 day barrier (79 days, 6 hours and 16 minutes), then Peter BLAKE (ENZA) in 1994, Olivier DE KERSAUSON (Sport Elec) in 1997, Bruno PEYRON (Orange) in 2002, Steve FOSSETT (PlayStation) in 2004 all got the reference time down further still until the most recent successful attempt made by PEYRON (Orange II) in 2005. Nearly 29 days less than on his first attempt...
Now it is the turn of Groupama 3 to measure herself against the sands of time with, what promises to be a highly favourable weather window on Thursday 24 January, that is for the first thousand miles of the course at least. Just before leaving Lorient last night, CAMMAS explained the decision to go with this weather window, "The aim was to find a weather forecast, which enabled us to make the equator in six days. We weren't able to go with the one in mid-December due to foil problems and given the course adopted by Thomas COVILLE, who did take that option, it wasn't as favourable as all that in the Southern hemisphere.
"This new opportunity looks good, even though it's complicated near the Canaries. There is a zone of light winds, which is still difficult to apprehend precisely. Our progress will be slowed but the theoretical time to reach the equator still looks to be around six days and we couldn't really afford to be so demanding any longer, as the period where we can be on standby draws to a close... The weather window is short so we mustn't delay at the edge of a zone of high pressure in the Bay of Biscay..." said CAMMAS.
Looking ahead to the record attempt, CAMMAS commented, "I know that I have a good team around me, which enables me to set off serenely in this venture. Of course there is a little apprehension mixed in with the excitement. When you head off into the unknown, there is always a form of stress that accompanies you, but without the unknown, there is no adventure. And adventure is something we love; it is our passion!"
Groupama 3 Crew list
Watch leader - helm: Franck CAMMAS (Skipper), Franck PROFFIT, Stève RAVUSSIN
Second helm: Frédéric LE PEUTREC, Loic LE MIGNON, Sébastien AUDIGANE
No.1: Ronan LE GOFF / Jan DEKKER, Jacques CARAËS
Navigator: Yves PARLIER
Onshore weather expert: Sylvain MONDON (Météo France)
The Record To Beat
Record: Round the World, non-stop
Yacht: Orange II
Skipper: Bruno PEYRON (FRA)
Dates: January-March 2005
Elapsed time: 50 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes and 4 seconds
Distance: 21,760 nm
Average Speed: 17.89 knots
Groupama 3 - www.cammas-groupama.com
World Sailing Speed Record Council - www.sailspeedrecords.com