At 07h 50' 17'(GMT), the ten men on Groupama 3 set off on the Jules Verne Trophy attempt. They will need to cross this same line, between Lizard Point and the Créac'h lighthouse, after rounding the three capes, prior to 15 March at 00 hours 09 minutes 21 seconds (GMT) to snatch the round the world record.
The reference time held by Bruno Peyron since 2005 is 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes 4 seconds.
In a fine NW'ly breeze of around fifteen knots, under one reef main and staysail, Groupama 3 was making over 25 knots en route towards Cape Finisterre this Thursday morning when she passed in front of Claude Le Breton, the WSSRC representative (World Sailing Speed Record Council).
'It was a quiet night and we were stopped off Ushant until 0600 GMT when the wind shifted round to the WNW. We set off quickly in a bid to benefit from a front in the Southern hemisphere... The departure was a bit lively as a result of the tide: there was a fairly unpleasant chop with head seas. Five minutes later, the wind had kicked back in to 27 knots and has clocked round progressively since at 13:30 GMT we were under gennaker with a NNE'ly breeze' indicated Franck Cammas early this afternoon.
The weather conditions have been good for this first day at sea since the breeze has clocked progressively round to the North, filling in to twenty five knots, and it should now shift round to the East near the Spanish coast, reaching more than thirty five knots. Indeed, Groupama 3 was benefiting from the passage of a front over Brittany, pushed by a zone of high pressure shifting eastwards: initially sailing along the eastern edge of this high pressure, Franck Cammas and his team should then quickly make their escape on fine seas along the coast of Portugal, since there will be an offshore breeze.
The only glitch on an otherwise well rounded programme is the temporary strengthening of the wind as they approach Cape Finisterre as a result of the Venturi effect: 'We should gybe at around 16-1800 hours in order to pass fairly close to the Spanish promontory, but it's likely to be very windy tonight off La Coruña, with over forty knots of E'ly. We will be careful to preserve the gear but the conditions won't last long: the wind will ease off slightly along the Iberian peninsula... The boat is easily making thirty knots but we're having to watch the sea state: the management of a round the world isn't the same as a four day record!' detailed the skipper of Groupama 3.
As a result the first 24 hours are likely to enable Franck Cammas and his nine crew to make it as far as Lisbon by tomorrow morning, Friday. At an average of over 27.6 knots during the first six hours, Groupama 3 already has a lead of over 34 miles on the reference time set by Bruno Peyron. It should be highlighted that the trajectory of the giant trimaran has been optimal since leaving Ushant, thanks to a rapid E'ly shift in the wind, whilst Orange II had to distance itself from the Breton coast prior to being able to dive down to Spain.
Of note though is that there is already an initial obstacle in the next stage of their course: around the Canaries a zone of light, shifty wind reigns, which is likely to slow progress aboard the maxi-multihull... Fortunately this reduction in pace is only set to last a few hours on Saturday but it is hard to predict with any precision how intense this phase will be. A quick escape from this trap would enable the crew to track down the African trade winds blowing from the NE and taking them to the equator in six days. Interview of the day
Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama 3:
'It was a calm night. We came to a standstill off Ushant at around 0200 GMT this morning. We opted for a start at around 0700 (GMT) this morning, once the wind had filled in. It's likely to be a windy night off Cape Finisterre.' http://www.windreportmedia.com/sailing/groupama/fc240108a_fr_e.mp3