Groupama 3: Cold ahead!

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The sailing conditions have become tougher over the past few hours as a low catches up with Groupama 3. Indeed the current aim for the giant trimaran is to try to stay at the front of this system until it rounds Cape Horn… To pull this off she will have to maintain a high speed to benefit from what is expected to be a NW’ly breeze as far as the Falkland Islands. 

   Still faster than Orange 2, the giant trimaran is having to cover more ground to reach Cape Horn and hence her lead continues to yo-yo today… When Groupama 3 switches onto a NE’ly course, she distances herself from the direct route, and when she gybes, as she did on Sunday evening, she makes gains. The upshot of this is that her lead over the reference time changes according to the manoeuvres, with dramatic fluctuations from one hour to the next. Ultimately though, Franck Cammas and his men still have a lead of nearly a day over Bruno Peyron and his crew… “Right now we’re pretty much on a SE’ly course, but we’re going to gybe again at lunchtime tomorrow, and then again to get onto a direct course towards the Horn… We’ve had some choppy seas over the past few hours, but they’re gradually becoming more regular now” explained Loïc Le Mignon at the 1130 UTC radio link-up with Groupama’s Race HQ in Paris.   

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 On the look-out for ice

The crew aboard Groupama 3 have been eating a lot more over the past few days due to the persistent cold reigning over the Pacific Ocean. The consumption of calories is considerably larger the longer you’re at sea (one month on the water already) and the more the temperatures drop to close to zero degrees Celsius. 

“As a member of both the technical crew and the sailing team, I consider that the trajectory is being well managed: we can make very fast headway without having big seas. We’re not cutting the corner but it’s still very agreeable. Right now it’s rather cold: the gloves are out and we’re keen to round Cape Horn to dry things out… We’re eating a lot more and we aren’t lacking in food as we have been during other attempts. We’ve run out of our special Lannilis bread already though…”  There is still some ice to watch out for too as the water temperature has dipped below 6°C. The ice isn’t far off, but the satellite images confirm that the actual icebergs are further South… The crew is nevertheless remaining very attentive both on the radar and on watch on deck. Not surprisingly fatigue is beginning to set in onboard.

Taking a low punch

A `nasty’ low is tailing Groupama 3, which must maintain a high pace to stay ahead of the system and benefit from the resulting downwind breeze. As such Franck Cammas and his men are going to be plagued by this depression until they make good their escape from the Southern Ocean.  

“This pattern is rather reminiscent of when we rounded Cape Leeuwin: we have to stay ahead of a depression until the Horn, or beyond! However, this disturbed system is faster than us… We’re reckoning on three days to reach the cape! We’re into a good rhythm onboard as we’ve known each other a long time, though there is the usual friction too. Everyone’s taking care of each other. It’s a very good crew which is competent, competitive and kind. We really want this third attempt to be successful!” 

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