Please select your home edition
Edition
T Clewring AC72

Volvo Ocean Race - Groupama avoid worst of tropical storm Alberto

by Franck Cammas on 23 May 2012
Groupama Sailing Team during leg 7 - Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 Yann Riou/Groupama Sailing Team © /Volvo Ocean Race http://www.cammas-groupama.com/
Whilst Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 team Groupama 4 is holding onto pole position in the seventh leg, from Miami to Lisbon, thanks to an early gybe in the tropical storm Alberto, the weather situation across the Atlantic isn't offering up any opportunities for the fleet: everyone is on the same course in a moderate southerly breeze, awaiting a potential opening in a couple of days. As such it's unlikely there will be any major upsets before they tackle a depressionary minimum forming between Newfoundland and the Azores.

'It's the early hours for us and we've slowed since the end of the night since we're currently under Code 0, beam onto the wind with 10-11 knots of breeze and a constant speed of 12-13 knots. We've left the tropical storm, which generated some big black cloud masses and lightning: the sky is clearer and cleaner, there are smooth seas and we're quietly slipping along. However, the weather is very complicated up ahead: it's hard to know which option we're going to take, as there are a lot pitfalls in front… We already know that the others are going to catch up with us over the coming hours, but fortunately everyone's following the same course at the moment. We're likely to go through every point of sail on our way to Lisbon, and even some upwind sailing in the middle of the Atlantic. It promises to be extremely varied and we're likely to go through the entire sail wardrobe… We shouldn't get too close to the ice zone offshore of Newfoundland,' commented Franck Cammas during the noon videoconference this Tuesday.

By diving onto a direct course earlier than their rivals, Franck Cammas and his men managed to avoid the worst of the tropical storm Alberto: the other five crews were surprised by the centre shifting over and some of them have even had to sail upwind in over 45 knots of breeze! With storms, squalls and lightning, it was an ‘end of the world' scenario, on seas which were raging due to the violent wind rotations on top of the oceanic current of the Gulf Stream. As such Groupama 4 was able to extract herself from all that without damage, as well as opening up a lead which was bordering on 50 miles midway through the afternoon (local time) on Monday. However, between the tropical phenomenon and a depression threading its way towards Newfoundland, a zone of lighter wind then slowed the progress of the French boat.

'After the Brazil-Florida leg, we'd promised ourselves that we'd be in on the action straightaway: we haven't spared any effort! We got a good start to the leg, because we were correctly positioned from the coastal course. And since then, we've managed to weave our way along nicely in the tropical storm. As we were the first to gybe, we avoided the zones of instability at the centre of the disturbed system, which enabled us to extend our lead over the course of Monday. Since the end of the night, we've fallen upon light airs and I'm hoping we won't be totally becalmed! The fleet behind is not escaping the influence of the depression and its again benefiting from steadier wind: there will certainly be some regrouping before our rivals hit the same wind as us… In any case, we were happy to have put in the gybe within the tropical storm Alberto before everyone else, but even we flirted with the centre for a while, as the systems are very hard to spot on the grib files and they're moving very quickly.'

On exiting tropical storm Alberto, Groupama 4 sought to hook onto a front, which is rolling in from Newfoundland to the Caribbean, where the southerly wind is set to build from sunset (local time). This front will push the Azores High along for the next few days, but as it disintegrates the further East it gets, a depressionary minimum will form across the fleet's trajectory. This is why Franck Cammas believes that a period of upwind sailing is on the cards in the middle of the Atlantic… It's this meteorological pitfall which will need to be tackled with discernment, because prior to that, there are no opportunities for another route in a more or less steady wind in terms of strength, but stable in terms of direction (South to South-West). As such, it's on the outskirts of the Atlantic archipelago that the routes may diverge at the end of the week. In the meantime, Groupama 4 must try to contain a comeback by the chasing pack, but essentially it's the wind gods who will decide on the separation between them over the next 48 hours…

'The back and ankle problems I had in Miami have been resolved: we've had two very active days on deck, especially yesterday, with a lot of spray and waves. It was nice to familiarise ourselves with what high speeds were like again! Fortunately things weren't too violent and it was even rather nice to rediscover boisterous conditions. My health and that of the rest of the crew is tip-top aboard Groupama 4. Furthermore, the temperature is perfect for getting in some good rest today! The atmosphere aboard is good, because the whole crew is focused on speed and our position as leader is positive. Added to that, this leg should be nice and short. For now, we're sailing our own race, without focusing on a particular adversary: Puma's certainly at ease and has been quick over the last three legs so the Americans are on an upward spiral… However, there are still some pieces of the jigsaw to put together before Lisbon!'

Positions at 1600 UTC on 22/05/2012
1. Groupama 4 – 2,946.7 miles from the finish
2. Puma – 12.0 miles astern of the leader
3. Telefonica – 18.0 miles astern of the leader
4. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing – 23.2 miles astern of the leader
5. Camper – 26.6 miles astern of the leader
6. Team Sanya – 36.5 miles astern of the Groupama Sailing Team website
Bakewell-White Yacht DesignSchaefer 2016 Ratchet 300x250T Clewring One Design

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May
Shape of next Volvo Ocean Race revealed at Southern Spars - Part 1
Southern Spars has been confirmed as the supplier of spars for the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. In mid-April, Race Director, Jack Lloyd and Stopover Manager Richard Mason outlined the changes expected for the 40,000nm Race during a tour of Southern Spars 10,000sq metre specialist spar construction facility. A total of up to seven boats is expected to enter, but time is running out for the construction of any new boats.
Posted on 3 May
Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted on 29 Apr