Over the course of the weekend Groupama 3 has slipped over 320nm behind the round the world record pace as she battles a high pressure zone off Argentina.
Groupama 3 has begun her sequence of tack changes to get across to the other side of the zone of high pressure, which has stabilised offshore of Argentina. Fortunately the giant trimaran is particularly at ease in these moderate headwinds.
The ascent of this west face of the Argentinean anticyclone promised to be both long and laborious: an initial change of tack was made at around 17:00 UTC on Sunday to switch onto a NW'ly course in line with the first wind shift to the N. However, shortly before midnight, the wind oscillated again and Groupama 3 once more repositioned herself to the NE to get onto a better angle with which to escape the high pressure. This Monday morning, Franck Cammas (FRA) and his men are making towards the Argentinean coast again to extract themselves from the zone of high pressure. The dying breeze and the barometer displaying over 1,030 hPa are signs that the centre of the zone of high pressure is close by.
Step By Step
"The anticyclone, which is to be left to starboard, is still very close, with the centre just 350 miles to the E of Groupama 3," analysed Sylvain Mondon of Météo France. "The last tack change, which will enable the crew to set a course to the N on starboard tack is scheduled for this Monday between late morning and early afternoon. The work onboard has been intense as the series of tack changes has been in line with expectations and is quite different to the previous 72 hours, where manoeuvres were rather rare. A little rest will be possible for the crew tonight and early tomorrow, Tuesday. Following on from that there will be a long and tricky passage off Rio midway through the week."
The giant trimaran will have to close on the centre in order to have the least tack changes and the least distance to travel to escape this high pressure trap as early as possible. As the wind shifts round to the N, then the NE and the E, this will be an indication that Cammas and his nine crew have reached the northern edge of this high pressure. After a few hours of sailing close-hauled, the trimaran will once again be able to pick up the pace with beam winds, which will remain moderate, on navigable seas.
Light and responsive, Groupama 3 is rather partial to these headwinds and is able to quickly reach 20 knots on a single float. It's a radical change for the crew, but the helmsmen love this technique which comprises the central hull just kissing the sea... The current balance in relation to the reference time is still in the red with a deficit of over 270 miles, however this half a day's separation remains reasonable. Indeed as the giant trimaran gets back into the E'ly breezes, she'll easily be able to average 27 knots along the direct course.
Although over the past 48 hours, Cammas and his band have conceded over 300 miles to Orange II's existing round the world record pace, the mindset remains, more than ever before, a conquering one.
During the daily radio link-up with Groupama's Jules Verne HQ on Sunday, Jacques Caraës reported, "We haven't tacked for a very long time and, from this evening, we'll be making two or three changes of tack to gently make headway to the North. It's at that point that we'll lose the greatest distance in relation to Orange II, but we're left with no other alternative if we are to locate a system which is more favourable to our progress. The fact that things are very tight as regards the record time is highly motivating and we know we've got a real battle on our hands! The general atmosphere is as great as ever and that's what makes this crew so good. The "Bar des Sports" is just one of the opportunities onboard, where everyone has a chance to get together. We're all really driven to do better and finish this record with flying colours so we can be proud on our arrival off Ushant! Yesterday evening we had a great time at the Bar des Sports and were treated to two duck breasts that Loïc had stashed away with two tiny little bottles of red wine. It was a delicious, unforgettable moment!"
Caraës also added that spirits onboard remain high, "The water is now 15° this morning, so it's beginning to get up to a nice temperature! We're making headway close on the wind with a 14 knot breeze on very comfortable seas. Life is completely different today and it's done us a world of good. It's affected everyone as we've all fallen into a very deep sleep. We were all in need of it as we were very fatigued after the sailing conditions in the Pacific. We've all recovered well in readiness for tackling the Atlantic, with a boat that's in equally fine fettle, which augurs well for the next stage!"
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)
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