Groupama 3's round the world record attempt for the Jules Verne Trophy has hit another blip with light winds in the Indian Ocean seeing the giant trimaran fall further behind record pace.
The introduction hasn't been completely in line with the usual exploits in the Indian Ocean: Groupama 3 has endured an overly peaceful night in a zone of confluence with little wind, and hence their chance to hook onto a N'ly air flow has been late in coming... As a result the giant trimaran has lost further ground on the reference time.
It will take more than that to destabilise such a group though! Hardened sailors, born competitors, experienced navigators of the Southern Ocean, Franck Cammas (FRA) and his men are just grinning and bearing it. Indeed they know all too well that the transition zone will soon be behind them and the long surfs across the Indian swell will pick up the pace of this Jules Verne Trophy once more. However, last night really set their nerves on edge as a small phase of light, shifting winds replaced a relatively well organised W'ly breeze... The cold front, which had propelled them along at high speed across the Southern Atlantic, took it into its head to catch up with them; possibly as a result of two zones of low pressure currently forming in the tropical Indian Ocean.
"We've been in a tricky zone for nearly 20 hours now and we're unable to cross this front, which is fusing with the previous one that pushed us along as far as the Indian Ocean... We're monitoring the weather in real time with Stan Honey, our navigator, and Sylvain Mondon on shore. The sea state isn't very pleasant: we're heading south again, ready for another gybe! We're going to have to perform a fair number of manoeuvres in order to extract ourselves from these calms. It's especially difficult on port tack with the swell coming directly at you whilst the W'ly wind remains weak..." explained Cammas at the 11:30 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.
Going Back To Basics
This Tuesday evening, Groupama 3 should begin to feel the first breaths of N'ly wind heralding the southern edge of what is a fairly extensive anticyclone, since it extends beyond the Kerguelen Islands. This system will progressively back round to the NW, stabilising at 25 knots under the pressure of a fairly S'ly depression (55°S). Indeed the giant trimaran's trajectory will remain wedged between 43° South and 46° South, with a gybe in view around the austral archipelago. In the meantime though, Cammas and his nine crew will have picked up a pace more in line with the Southern Ocean, and will hence make it back within the timing for the Jules Verne Trophy alongside Kerguelen. A session of gliding, speed and thrills is in prospect then as the crew hunt down the very reason for setting off on this round the world...
"It's not a typical Indian! We haven't got particularly violent winds or big seas, but rather a light wind and a NE'ly sea, which is extremely rare in this zone. Ahead of us we have a N'ly wind, which is what is providing us with a swell that's hitting us head on, hampering our progress. Since yesterday the impact has been really violent, so we've eased off the pace a little to spare the boat. We're managing to maintain our lives aboard, but you do have to select the moment you're going to make yourself something to eat according to what tack we're on! The same is true for sleeping and resting! I don't think we'll be out of this quickly... We'll have to wait till the system develops."
Groupama 3's log
(departure on 31 January at 13h 55' 53'' UTC)
Day 1 (1 February 1400 UTC): 500 miles (deficit = 94 miles)
Day 2 (2 February 1400 UTC): 560 miles (lead = 3.5 miles)
Day 3 (3 February 1400 UTC): 535 miles (lead = 170 miles)
Day 4 (4 February 1400 UTC): 565 miles (lead = 245 miles)
Day 5 (5 February 1400 UTC): 656 miles (lead = 562 miles)
Day 6 (6 February 1400 UTC): 456 miles (lead = 620 miles)
Day 7 (7 February 1400 UTC): 430 miles (lead = 539 miles)
Day 8 (8 February 1400 UTC): 305 miles (lead = 456 miles)
Day 9 (9 February 1400 UTC): 436 miles (lead = 393 miles)
Day 10 (10 February 1400 UTC): 355 miles (lead = 272 miles)
Day 11 (11 February 1400 UTC): 267 miles (deficit = 30 miles)
Day 12 (12 February 1400 UTC): 247 miles (deficit = 385 miles)
Day 13 (13 February 1400 UTC): 719 miles (deficit = 347 miles)
Day 14 (14 February 1400 UTC): 680 miles (deficit = 288 miles)
Day 15 (15 February 1400 UTC): 651 miles (deficit = 203 miles)
Day 16 (16 February 1400 UTC): 322 miles (deficit = 376 miles)
The Record To Beat
Record: Round the World, non stop, crewed, any type
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 nautical miles
Average Speed: 17.89 knots