Whilst the wind has finally kicked in again, Groupama 3 has passed the second legendary point in this round the world, Cape Leeuwin to the SW of Australia. A vast low, which is coming up behind them, should propel the giant triamaran as far as New Zealand, but the crew will be subject to violent winds and will have to bend its course again towards the NE
Cape Leeuwin was finally passed (longitude 115° 08 East) this Thursday at 0951 UT: in so doing Franck Cammas and his nine crew have established a new reference time between Ushant and the SW tip of Australia, in 21 days 02 hours 43 seconds. They have improved on the time held by Bruno Peyron and his men since 2005 by eleven hours six minutes. However, this section of the Indian Ocean has been marked by a net loss of nearly half a day on the time established by *Orange II* between Cape Agulhas and the Australian cape (7d 05h 35'). *Groupama 3* in fact covered these 3,800 miles or so in 7 days 17 hours 13 minutes. However, Franck Cammas and his crew are still managing to hold onto a twelve hour lead over the maxi catamaran's overall record time, with two days to the mid-course mark.
'A circumnavigation of the globe is quite long! The sea isn't as small as all that... And the South has not provided us with good conditions for slipping along in. We still have a long way to go and it's fabulous to come here and see the seascapes and the colours: there is a moon, which is gradually reappearing and things will get nicer, even if the nights are short. It often makes you think of the mountains down here...'* replied Franck Cammas to Antoine Denériaz, the Olympic downhill skiing medal winner, who attended the radio session this Thursday lunchtime, accompanied by Paul le Guen, coach to the celebrated French football team, Paris Saint-Germain.
'The boat goes quickly and we're trying to take it into the right place, which isn't always simple... The SW'ly wind kicked in again six hours ago as these past 24 hours we've been bumping into the rear of a cold front, unable to get past this barrier! As we wait for it to break up, we're making the most of the situation to drop southwards and a low is coming up behind us. We're going to aim for the South of New Zealand'
The smallest of the circumnavigation! The paradox of this amazing circumnavigation of the globe, which seems to be turning time on its head: whilst *Groupama 3* was sailing as far as 54° South this Thursday, the giant trimaran's most extreme position since leaving Ushant, it only amassed 388.7miles at 0800 UT in the space of 24 hours... This is an average of sixteen knots, which really doesn't reflect the boat's true potential! Ending up in Mediterranean style calms when skimming past Antarctica is rather surprising in itself, added to which is the fact that this weather situation is not ready to stabilise!
The reasons for this are that during this Indian interlude, the breeze will kick in violently from the South, forcing Franck Cammas and his nine crew to climb towards Tasmania... As a result there will be more ground to cover to round Antarctica, not to mention bigger seas, as the swell will build and become harder as the hours go by.
Sylvain Mondon from Météo France was fairly reserved about the next stage of the course as a tropical low has installed itself to the East of New Zealand and may well drop down and mix with the disturbance, which has been pushing Groupama 3 along for several hours. The upshot of this will be winds of 60 to 80 knots and waves of over ten metres!
Such conditions will prevent any multihull from exploiting its true potential, particularly a giant trimaran. Once again, all this will come down to just a few hours and the boat's trajectory, which should be bending in quite dramatically to the Tasman Sea, may well climb further North again after Stewart Island. The latter is a place the navigator, Yves Parlier, knows well, since it is there that he made a stopover to repair his mast prior to completing the Vendée Globe 2000.
Groupama 3's ability to start over again will therefore be weighted by the partial uncertainty, which continues to reign over the evolution of the three day weather forecast, after which point Franck Cammas and his men will have sailed half of this round the world race against time!
Today's interview with Franck Cammas:
'The water is at 3°C but it's not a zone renowned for its icebergs. We're remaining vigilant at the radar all the same though. The cold set in a few days ago: we don't hang about in the cockpit and we wear gloves for manoeuvres. Moving about is a little harder on deck: it's not a very pleasant region to sail in. The midway point on the course will be a big psychological breakthrough as we'll be heading home from that point! However, the climb up the Atlantic is always longer than the descent... And the Pacific hasn't yet stabilised, at the entry at least. Nothing has been handed to us on a plate during this attempt. We're battling with this and we're still inside the time.'
*Start on 24th January at 0750'17' UTC
*Arrival before Saturday 15th March 2008 at 00h09'21' UTC
*Day 21 at 0800' UTC
*Distance covered on the water in 24 hours: 388.7 miles
*Distance covered since the start: 11,052 miles
*Distance to the finish: 13,478 miles
*Average on day 21: 16.19 knots
*Average since the start: 21.93 knots
*Lead in relation to Orange II: 333.4 miles
Find a detailed cartography at: http://www.cammas-groupama.com/en/index.jsp