The first Sunday at sea for Groupama 3 was, in the end, a relatively good day, judging by the weather CAMMAS and his crew encountered. The conditions to the south of the Canaries did not favour the steady progress of Groupama 3, which spent much of Sunday wavering between seven and 30 knots according to the squalls and the jumps in the wind. However, many manoeuvres, one day and 500 miles later, Groupama 3 reached the Cape Verde archipelago in a record time.
The first half of Sunday was characterised by a 'yoyo-ing' headway, which proved testing both for the nerves and the body. A great number of manoeuvres were called for to adapt the sail area to the incessant changes in the breeze. However, the start of the week will be faster with the return of the tradewinds, and CAMMAS and crew will be aiming to extend their lead over Orange II.
CAMMAS explained Sunday's difficult conditions in more detail, "It's not very simple on the water: it feels like we've been in the Doldrums since yesterday! The squalls enabled us to make headway quickly last night but they were very fickle with the wind jumping from 30 to three knots with a 60° shift... We're longing for some more established tradewinds. Here, the skies are very cloudy as we are in the axis of a ridge of high pressure close to a depression. We're trying to slalom between the squalls," he said yesterday.
The stormy zone was the result of a disturbance, which had already caused the areas of calm prior to the Canary Islands.
Cape Verde, like the Canaries, sprawls out in terms of longitude (180 miles) and latitude (150 miles), with mountains reaching nearly 2,000 metres on Santo Antao (the island furthest to the NW of the archipelago)! As a result, the wind shadow and the disturbed breeze extends for tens of miles downwind of the island and Groupama 3 has moved away beyond 26° west, with the navigator and the skipper were opting to give these volcanic islands a wide berth in order not to suffer its effects.
Although it has been a testing and tiring weekend, CAMMAS, was pleased to see the crew working, "Days like these enable us to toughen ourselves up though and the manoeuvres are becoming increasingly fluid: it augurs well for the next stages! We have also made progress at the helm as well as the trimming and the manoeuvres," he said.
The next hurdle is the Doldrums, the Inter Convergence Zone (ITCZ) Tropical raging between 8° and 4° north, about 600 miles off the blades of a giant trimaran. With a trade winds from the northeast, the crew may consider entering the area of capricious winds tomorrow morning. Depending on the activity and the extent of this climatic "slump", Groupama 3 will consolidate its advantage over current record holder Orange II, but at this stage of the game, is already looking certain to be at least as fast in passing the equator.
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