Monday, 1 February 2010

JVT: Groupama 3 Up and Running!

Groupama 3 leaves Ushant on Sunday, 31st January 2010. Image copyright Yvan Zedda.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

13h 55' 53'' UTC: Groupama 3 crossed the start line of the Jules Verne Trophy off the Créac'h lighthouse in Ushant. Franck Cammas and his nine crew set off at over twenty knots in a light N'ly breeze on the back of a mass of rain... This latest record attempt begins with some encouraging, albeit tricky weather conditions.

Returning to cross the finish line off Ushant before 06h 14' 57'' on 23rd March: such is the objective the ten men aboard the trimaran have set themselves in order to snatch the round the world record, that is within one minute of the reference time... Indeed Groupama 3 must complete the course spanning more than 21,600 miles, in less than 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes; the reference time for the Jules Verne Trophy set by Bruno Peyron and his crew in 2005.

Franck Cammas and his nine crew set off at 13h 55' 53'' (UTC) on their third attempt. It would appear to have less favourable conditions than those on the two previous attempts (January 2008 and November 2009), however the extremely tight timing for hooking onto the next weather system as they pass Cape Finisterre and then the Canaries remains positive nonetheless. Indeed the weather routing gives a rough time of five and a half to six and a half days for reaching the equator! This translates as a very acceptable time for maintaining sufficient room for manoeuvre with a view to Orange 2's trajectory in 2005...

Iberian verdict

The most uncertain phase relates to the passage of Cape Finisterre as the weather window is a very short one, stretching to three hours tops according to the weather models! By setting off early, just after the passage of a fairly inactive cold front with rain, Groupama 3 is increasing her chances of making the Spanish headland on schedule and then skirting closely round it. Such a trajectory is shaping up to be pretty favourable since a low has settled itself in a S'ly position level with the Canaries. As it fills in on site, it should enable the crew to benefit from a steady N'ly breeze, giving way to a system of regular tradewinds.

From Monday morning the crew of Groupama 3 will know whether they've been able to respect the timing, but once the uncertainty is over, the giant trimaran will be able to lengthen her stride... And though the trajectory is very direct and close to the great circle route, enabling big gains in terms of optimising the course time, the price is an increase in the number of manoeuvres to be performed. As such the crew, who packed their bags at noon on Saturday, are likely to be into the thick of the action from the off. Setting out with full mainsail and solent, they'll have to swiftly put in a reef and change down to a smaller headsail as the N'ly breeze picks up in the Bay of Biscay (up to 25-30 knots). After this it's a transition phase off Cape Finisterre which is likely to concern the crew at the end of the night... This will be the first tricky stage, which they cannot afford to miss!

The crew and organisation aboard Groupama 3

• Watch No.1: Franck Cammas / Loïc Le Mignon / Jacques Caraës
• Watch No.2: Stève Ravussin / Thomas Coville / Bruno Jeanjean
• Watch No.3: Fred Le Peutrec / Lionel Lemonchois / Ronan Le Goff
• Off watch navigator: Stan Honey goes up on deck for manoeuvres
• Each watch lasts three hours
• One watch system on deck, one watch on stand-by ready to help manoeuvre, one watch totally resting

The record to beat

Currently held by Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 since 2005 with a time of 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes at an average of 17.89 knots. Lionel Lemonchois, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës were aboard at the time.

Cammas - Groupama

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