Whilst she had already passed 20° South this Friday afternoon, Groupama 3 was beginning to bend its course towards South Africa. The tradewinds have continued to fill in since their passage of the equator and the trimaran has racked up a day of over 680 miles! Heat, squalls and a good atmosphere characterise this eighth day at sea.
Hanging a left: Franck Cammas and his crew are beginning to follow the access road, which links the `Saint Helena ringroad' to the `Southern expressway'! The traffic is flowing smoothly despite the proximity of the weekend and there's no indication of any traffic jams off Rio de Janeiro. Groupama 3 seems to have avoided the rush hours...but not the speed cameras since it has already been `flashed' making nearly 32 knots this Friday morning.
It should be emphasised that there are no speed restrictions in the South Atlantic and the giant trimaran has made the most of this to rack up 685 miles in 24 hours, extending its lead over *Orange II* to 680 miles!
'We're making more and more speed: there are a fair number of squalls around so you really have to keep an eye on the situation. The seas are beginning to build. The tradewinds are slowly shifting to the left, but under one reef mainsail and solent jib, we haven't yet begun to bend our course inwards. This should happen this afternoon and we'll probably have to hoist the gennaker: I think we'll make easting in two stages, a spell making due South then, with the arrival of a low, a long tack towards South Africa. Once we've caught onto the W'ly winds of the Deep South, we should be on our way then for a sprint of fifteen days or less to Cape Horn'.
'However, this initial depression system will escape and we'll have to wait for the next lows to come around: it won't be an easy drive down the expressway to Cape Town. Our aim will be to remain at the edge of these phenomena so as not to suffer too big a sea. In the meantime though, we'll have to make southing to hook onto this front' recounted Franck Cammas at the telephone session this Friday.
Directly beneath the sunThese high speeds are not preventing life onboard from settling into its own rhythm and schedules, framed by the watches, the meals, the rests.. and the apéritifs! 'Yesterday evening, we made up our weekly apéritif with thinly sliced dried beef, cheese from the Savoie region, savoury pancakes, all washed down with a small bottle of Cheval Blanc... It's the first time I've done that aboard a race boat! As the course is a long distance one and you have to know how to take a break away from the pace to boost the team spirits, it's a good idea for everyone to get together in the cockpit, especially as its rather warm'
This goes to show that the rhythm of these long haul trips isn't the same as the express ones. This is the case not simply due to the condition of the boat being crucial, but also the physical shape and motivation of the crew, which have to be subject to such high average speeds for very long periods of time, without damaging the boat's potential or overly stressing the crew.
All this is rather a novelty for the skipper Franck Cammas who has already, at the latitude of Rio de Janeiro, largely exceeded his personal best distance covered during his solo or double-handed transatlantic races. And on this 1st February, the crew were also able to observe that the sun was directly overhead, at the solar midday: not a shadow possible when the sun is directly at its zenith in the throes of the austral summer.
Slowly though, or rather rapidly given the weather forecasts, the temperatures will drop, the winds will strengthen and the seas will build, for at the end of this bracing second weekend at sea, the roaring 40's will put in an appearance! After just ten days at sea.
References: Jules Verne Trophy - Time to beat: 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes and 4 seconds - Average speed: 17.89 knots
Record held by Bruno Peyron, aboard the maxi catamaran Orange II, since March 2005.
Time to beat from the equator - the Cape of Good Hope: *7 days 5 hours 22 minutes (Orange II in 2005)
Start on 24th January at 0750'17' UTC
Arrival before Saturday 15th March 2008 at 00h09'21' UTC
*Day 8 at 7h 45' UTC
*Distance covered on the water in 24 hours: 683.5miles
*Distance covered since the start: 4,250 miles
*Distance to the finish: 20,280 miles
*Average on day 8: 28.48 knots
*Average since the start: 22.14 knots
*Lead in relation to Orange II: 658 miles http://www.cammas-groupama.com/en
Find a detailed cartography at: http://cammas-groupama.geovoile.com/julesverne/index.asp?lg=en