Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Groupama in the Volvo Ocean Race- Echoes of the ridge of high pressure

by Franck Cammas on 10 Nov 2011
Groupama Sailing Team during leg 1 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12, from Alicante, Spain to Cape Town, South Africa. Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team © /Volvo Ocean Race http://www.cammas-groupama.com/

Still alone offshore of Agadir, Groupama 4 is benefiting from a gentle downwind breeze of barely ten knots trickling down from the North. However, the situation is set to improve the further down the coast of Morocco they get, becoming more favourable once they reach the Canaries, at around noon on Thursday if all goes to plan. To the North of Madeira, their three rivals , Telefonica, Puma and Camper, are sailing at quite a lick but they're at 60° to the direct route towards the equator...

On the one side then, you have a French yacht, heading down the Moroccan coast all alone. On the other, you have three VOR-70s sailing in contact with each other to the North of Madeira. The upshot of this is a lateral separation stretching some 350 miles! A veritable gulf has opened up between them then after just four days at sea and 750 miles on the clock since setting out from Alicante last Saturday... Most significantly of all though, conditions are radically different, as the one boat is sailing in light downwind airs whilst the group are contending with steadier headwinds. So what's happened?

On exiting the Strait of Gibraltar, a ridge of high pressure has filled in the `void' left between the depression which shook the VOR-70s up in the Alboran Sea, and a vast disturbed zone which is stagnating off Ireland and is set to be reactivated by a secondary depression to the North of the Azores. As such a long yet narrow band of high pressure is making the transition between these two weather systems, stretching virtually right the way across from Sicily to the area surrounding the West Indies! Franck Cammas and his men decided very early on to slip along the Moroccan coast and crawl down the length of the southern edge of this ridge of high pressure, whilst the other three competitors opted to link onto the fronts associated with the Atlantic low by trucking down the northern edge of this band of high pressure. Between the two, in the area to the North of the Canaries, calm reigns.

Though it's unusual in an event like the Volvo Ocean Race to break away from the bulk of the fleet (especially from the second day out!), Franck Cammas and his crew are certainly stamping their cultural differences on the racetrack. Indeed, on a round the world, and particularly so on this Atlantic stage which the French are very familiar with (Transat Jacques Vabre, Jules Verne Trophy...), tactics are always secondary to strategy! In this way, though Groupama 4 is set to slip below the Canaries tomorrow, Thursday, she will latch onto a north-easterly tradewind system which will gradually build to over fifteen knots... Meantime, between Madeira and the Canaries, the three VOR-70s will have to make the switch from a depressionary system with W'ly wind, to a tradewind system. Between these two systems, they'll have to traverse this ridge of high pressure where the breeze will wilt away until Saturday...

However, this certainly doesn't mean that Groupama 4 will have a clear run. In reality, this Wednesday afternoon and tonight, they will have to deal with a rather messy northerly breeze of around ten knots, forcing them to hug the Moroccan coast so as not to get ensnared in the zones of calm. As such, Franck Cammas has been picking his way southwards making about ten knots of boat speed, on track for the bay of Agadir, whilst his rivals have been flying along at nearly fifteen knots to the North of Madeira. Their trajectory would have us believe that they're on a mission to pass way offshore of the Canaries archipelago so as to try to catch up with the northerly air flow as early as possible this weekend... As a result the next 24 hours are crucial and will certainly determine which of these two groups will be first to reach the Tropic of Cancer, at 23°26 North, which marks the midway point between the Canaries and Cape Verde islands.
Colligo Marine 660x82upffront 660x82T Clewring One Design

Related Articles

Volvo Ocean Race- Official Video of latest edtion
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 started in Alicante, Spain in October 2011 and concluded in Galway, Ireland during July The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 started in Alicante, Spain in October 2011 and concluded in Galway, Ireland during early July 2012. This documentary tracks the fleet during their amazing around the world journey. Catch all the drama and action as the teams sail a 39,000 nautical miles through the world's most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to Itajaí, M
Posted on 21 Aug 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- All-Women crew announced for the 2014-15 edition
The Volvo Ocean Race will feature an all-female team for the first time since 2001-02 after global hygiene and forest co The Volvo Ocean Race will feature an all-female team for the first time since 2001-02 after global hygiene and forest company SCA announced they would enter a women’s crew for the next edition in 2014-15. 'The lack of women in the last few editions of the race has meant we haven't been representing half the population of the human race' - Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race, CEO
Posted on 21 Aug 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- And when the race is over.... + Video
Camper, the second placed boat in the Volvo Ocean Race, has returned to her Spanish home. Camper, the second placed boat in the Volvo Ocean Race, has returned to her Spanish home. She will visit the Copa del Rey in Palma de Mallorca. Sponsored by the Mallorcan footwear company Camper, the return of the joint Spanish and New Zealand flagged boat, marks the end of a round the world adventure that started with the yacht’s baptism at the RCNP in September 2011 and the race start from A
Posted on 18 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Calling up the Reinforcements
They say one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, and that certainly was the case for reserve sailors They say one man's misfortune is another man's opportunity, and that certainly was the case for reserve sailors in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race, who were given the chance to prove they could step up to challenges as big as the Southern Ocean, often with barely any notice. Be it an email with a subject line 'get your boots ready' or a hurried face-to-face with the skipper just minutes before the st
Posted on 18 Jul 2012
The most successful Volvo Ocean Race yet
The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 was not only the closest race in the 39-year history of the event but also the most success The Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 was not only the closest race in the 39-year history of the event but also the most successful, CEO Knut Frostad said on Thursday, with hundreds of thousands of fans visiting Galway in Ireland for a buoyant finale and outstanding growth across media platforms set to be confirmed once final data is in.
Posted on 16 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Sanderson wants to go again
Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson will be back racing as early as this weekend but the big date circled in his diary is in la Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson will be back racing as early as this weekend but the big date circled in his diary is in late 2014 when he expects to return for another campaign in the Volvo Ocean Race. Sanderson skippered ABN AMRO ONE to victory in 2005-06 and while his race this time with Sanya was not the same glittering success he is determined it will not be his final appearance in the Volvo
Posted on 16 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Reluctant hero Marsh takes seamanship honour
'It's been an amazing adventure, a fantastic tour, and a great race' - Brad Marsh The title ‘hero’ does not rest easy on the shoulders of Groupama bowman Brad Marsh, but most agree that it is the best way to describe the Kiwi who repaired a sinking yacht, saved a broken rig and scaled a 31-metre mast in a storm front.
Posted on 16 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race - Perfection never enough for Franck Cammas
Volvo Ocean Race skipper Franck Cammas, at the age of just 39, is already assured of his place in sailing history Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 skipper Franck Cammas, at the age of just 39, is already assured of his place in sailing history thanks to Groupama's debut victory in the Volvo Ocean Race. Here we profile the charismatic French sailor for whom perfection is never good enough.
Posted on 10 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Selected Awards announced at Formal Prizegiving
Camper's Hamish Hooper saw nine months of hard work pay off as he was crowned Media Crew Member of the Volvo Ocean Race The selected award category winners were announced at the final formal Volvo Ocean Race prizegiving in Galway Ireland. We present a gallery of images and video of the category winners and their feats including the Media Crew member Award, the Rookie Award, the Seamanship Award, the Shore Crew Award as well as the Designer Award and Speed Trophy presentation.
Posted on 9 Jul 2012
Volvo Ocean Race- Formal Prizegiving - Racing Award winners
The racing award winners and crews were announced at the formal prizegiving for the Volvo Ocean Race, at Galway, Ireland The racing award winners were recognised at the formal prizegiving for the Volvo Ocean Race, at Galway, Ireland after the conclusion of the InPort race on Saturday. All six crews were presented with overall awards or place momentos. The InPort Trophy was awarded as well, the speed record trophy was also awarded.
Posted on 8 Jul 2012