The final charge towards Ushant began this Wednesday lunchtime as Groupama 3 gybed in a SW'ly wind of a little over 20 knots, with a 400 mile advantage on round the world record pace.
Now without fear of being caught up in the calm conditions of an anticyclone, skipper Franck Cammas (FRA) and his men will still have to be on their guard all the way to the finish of their round the world record attempt as the sea state deteriorates.
In the great round the world marathon, Groupama 3 is beginning the final sprint in a steady yet disturbed SW'ly wind. The current aim for Cammas and his nine crew is to seek to position themselves ahead of a cold front, which should push them all the way to the finish off Ushant. However, the trajectory isn't likely to be direct, initially at least, as the giant trimaran is set to cover a little more ground to the North in order to totally extract herself from the high pressure of the Azores, before swooping on Brittany with the help of a few gybes.
"We're happy to be back in the breeze because things were still pretty tricky on Tuesday close to the axis of a ridge of high pressure. The grib files had us believe that we could be swallowed up by the light breeze of this high pressure, which might have led to us being stuck for hours or even days! In fact the night proved windier than forecast and we were able to make good our escape via the North. Right now, we're going to have to deal with a depression, which we hope we'll be able to play with as far as the finish... It's going to be windy with quite a lot of gybes to perform. In fact we're tackling our first manoeuvre right now. The skies have become greyer so the weather's reminiscent of Brittany, but the temperature is still quite high" indicated Cammas during the 11:30 UTC radio link-up with Groupama's Race HQ in Paris.
Staying Ahead Of The Front
After traversing a front which is in the process of degenerating this Wednesday afternoon, Groupama 3 will find herself ahead of another cold front that is moving across from Newfoundland at nearly thirty knots. As such the aim is to stay ahead of the relatively steady SW'ly air flow, by maintaining a speed of close to that of the weather system itself. Logically, the wind should then continue to pump out twenty-five to thirty-five knots of breeze, with gusts as the front approaches. In order not to get shaken up by the waves, which will increase in size over the coming hours, Franck Cammas and his navigator Stan Honey have planned to put in several gybes to stay to the South of this disturbed system.
"The manoeuvres are very smooth after forty-five days, but it's still a tricky moment as it's in situations such as these that you can damage material. We're going to have to be careful, especially in twenty-five knots of breeze... We have to stay on the pace now and not take any risks. However we can do it without forcing ourselves to stay in the low: it'll all depend on the sea state! We're confident about the condition of the gear because we've preserved the boat throughout, but we'll be attacking a similar phase to that of the Southern Ocean..."
Sunrise Or Sunset?
The ETAs are becoming increasingly reliable now that Groupama 3 has escaped the high pressure hurdle and she should be able to stay ahead of the system, which is sweeping across the Atlantic as far as Europe. As such the current forecast is suggesting an arrival between Saturday morning and Saturday evening, and then it will take around two to four hours for the giant trimaran to enter the channel taking her into the Port du Château marina in Brest. The symbolic fifty day barrier should thus be absolutely shattered!
"We've hooked onto the system, which will continue as far as Brittany: if we don't have any technical issues, we shouldn't have any more fears about the weather. We're now riding the last train of wind which goes all the way to the finish... We must ensure we don't have any mishaps, but there's no reason for us to worry. The seas aren't heavy yet so we can reasonably hang onto some high speeds" added Fred Le Peutrec.
Groupama 3's log
(departure on 31 January at 13:55:53 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)
Day 17 (17 February 1400 UTC): 425 miles (deficit = 338 miles)
Day 18 (18 February 1400 UTC): 362 miles (deficit = 433 miles)
Day 19 (19 February 1400 UTC): 726 miles (deficit = 234 miles)
Day 20 (20 February 1400 UTC): 672 miles (deficit = 211 miles)
Day 21 (21 February 1400 UTC): 584 miles (deficit = 124 miles)
Day 22 (22 February 1400 UTC): 607 miles (deficit = 137 miles)
Day 23 (23 February 1400 UTC): 702 miles (lead = 60 miles)
Day 24 (24 February 1400 UTC): 638 miles (lead = 208 miles)
Day 25 (25 February 1400 UTC): 712 miles (lead = 371 miles)
Day 26 (26 February 1400 UTC): 687 miles (lead = 430 miles)
Day 27 (27 February 1400 UTC): 797 miles (lead = 560 miles)
Day 27 (27 February 1400 UTC): 560 miles (lead = 517 miles)
Day 29 (1 March 1400 UTC): 434 miles (lead = 268 miles)
Day 30 (2 March 1400 UTC): 575 miles (lead = 184 miles)
Day 31 (3 March 1400 UTC): 617 miles (lead = 291 miles)
Day 32 (4 March 1400 UTC): 492 miles (lead = 248 miles)
Day 33 (5 March 1400 UTC): 445 miles (lead = 150 miles)
Day 34 (6 March 1400 UTC): 461 miles (lead = 58 miles)
Day 35 (7 March 1400 UTC): 382 miles (deficit = 100 miles)
Day 36 (8 March 1400 UTC): 317 miles (deficit = 326 miles)
Day 37 (9 March 1400 UTC): 506 miles (deficit = 331 miles)
Day 38 (10 March 1400 UTC): 321 miles (deficit = 384 miles)
Day 39 (11 March 1400 UTC): 255 miles (deficit = 309 miles)
Day 40 (12 March 1400 UTC): 288 miles (deficit = 473 miles)
Day 41 (13 March 1400 UTC): 503 miles (deficit = 483 miles)
Day 42 (14 March 1400 UTC): 445 miles (deficit = 403 miles)
Day 43 (15 March 1400 UTC): 482 miles (deficit = 216 miles)
Day 44 (16 March 1400 UTC): 401 miles (lead = 72 miles)
Day 45 (17 March 1400 UTC): 441 miles (lead = 412 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
Get the latest updates from Groupama 3 at www.cammas-groupama.com