Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Polarised and non-polarised readers for sailors

l’Hydroptère DCNS crew await favourable weather window

by l’Hydroptère DCNS on 14 Aug 2012
SUNSET ON L’HYDROPTÈRE DCNS in LONG BEACH - l’Hydroptère DCNS © Thomas Lesage http://hydroptere.com/
l’Hydroptère DCNS has been on stand-by in the Rainbow Harbor Marina of Long Beach for the past three weeks. The crew is awaiting their first favourable weather window to set sail for Honolulu. The flying trimaran is ready for take-off and all eyes are on the wind gods now. A fitting moment for a round-up of the situation with Jacques Vincent, co-skipper of the boat, as the crew anticipate a key element in a record attempt: the weather.

What is the main weather parameter that will trigger the start procedure?
'We’re targeting a phase when the North Pacific High is in the perfect position so we’re keeping an eye on how this zone is evolving. Ideally, the zone of high pressure has to be further North and slightly across to the East or West if possible. That would enable us to be as close to the direct course to Honolulu as possible and provide us with some good gybing angles for approaching the islands.From such scenarios, we’d prefer for the zone of high pressure to be set slightly over to the West. That would ensure we have lighter winds along the Californian coast and hence a more moderate sea state along the first quarter of the crossing.'

What kind of weather pattern are you expecting for the crossing attempt?
'On the big day we’ll leave port at around lunchtime. The wind will be light, but we know that a thermal breeze is likely to pick up at around 1400 hours. If things pan out as they should, this will be sufficiently strong to get us away from the coast and efficiently negotiate Catalina Island, which will be our first obstacle. Offshore of Catalina, we’ll hook onto a north-westerly air flow, along the eastern limit of the North Pacific High. The further away from California we get, the more the north-westerly winds will veer, switching round to the North and then the North-East. Midway along the course, the wind will ease a little as it clocks round to the East, which will call for us to put in a tack that will set us slightly higher and to the North of the direct course. Three-quarters of the way along, we’ll need to plan for a gybe, which will distance us from the centre of the anticyclone and its associated overly light winds, at which point we’ll set a course to the South-West and the islands. During this section of the course, the wind will continue to veer, enabling us to make for our destination on a direct course.As we approach Hawaii, the wind will funnel between the islands and the resulting increase in wind strength will cause the seas to build. That will doubtless be the trickiest element of the crossing, with the famous 'Moloka?i Channel', at the end of which lies the finish line.'

Do you have a general idea of the speeds over each of these portions of the course?
'Between the start and Catalina Island, we’ll be sailing upwind at around 18 knots I think and we may have to put in a tack to get around it. After Catalina, we should be able to make headway at an average of 25 knots. Some 150 miles from Los Angeles, we’ll more likely be making about 30 - 35 knots. To finish off, as the wind veers, we’ll switch to a downwind point of sail, which should see us making 25-30 knots of boat speed again.'

How would you weigh up the impact of the choice of weather window on the chances of success in your record attempt?

'It’s crucial! It’s the weather which enables you to exploit the boat’s potential.'

What kind of plan does the team have in place for surveying the weather and how are you organising yourselves?

'Among the crew, Yves Parlier and I are on permanent weather watch. Alain, Jean and Luc are also running the routing software and passing on their comments to us at regular intervals. For the time being, during the stand-by period, the weather watch has focused largely on some fairly in-depth calculation models. We’re constantly running the routing and the minute the results begin to resemble the record reference time, we study the departure possibilities in greater detail. During the stand-by phase, we’re being supported by Christian Dumard, (Great Circle/TVSailing News), a professional router.

Over the record period, he’ll also be keeping a watch, directly linked to l’Hydroptère DCNS. From a more technical viewpoint, with regards the computing element, we’re running the boat’s polars* on the American (GFS) and European (CEP) models. For the start zone we’re using the COAMPS files provided by Saildoc. When the two models converge on the same departure period there’s a strong chance that it will be a good weather window.'

*polars: theoretical speeds of a yacht according to a given angle and wind strength.

Why have you chosen this timeframe to come to California?
'The ideal time frame begins in mid-June, continues through July and closes up again over the course of August/ early September. In summer, the anticyclone climbs North and the depressions become increasingly rare. These weather conditions enable you to take a more direct route towards Hawaii, without being disturbed by a northerly swell. A second favourable factor is the thermal breeze, which is highly active during this period. '

What have been the weather windows so far?
'We witnessed some very good weather windows over the first few days of July and since then there hasn’t been anything solid. It’s all down to the vagaries of the weather.'

And the upcoming weather windows?
'We haven’t lost hope. With a bit of luck, a weather window may present itself between now and the end of August. On our files, we can view the situation over a ten-day period. In any case, for now we’re fully focused on the routing and l’Hydroptère DCNS is ready for take-off.'

Jacques Vincent has been Alain Thébault’s co-skipper on l’Hydroptère since 2002. He boasts 29 transatlantic crossings and eight round the worlds, including two Jules Verne Trophies, three Withbread, one Volvo Ocean Race, the Oryx Quest
The Race.

Hydroptere website

upffront 660x82Schaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82T Clewring AC72

Related Articles

Pacific Cup - Riding Rufless across the Pacific
The former Bronco was a well sailed class boat the ridden hard and put away wet. 2016 Pacific Cup - We begin this tale with the fundamental roots. The Melges 32 featured in this story is not a tock Melges 32' by any means. The former Bronco was a well sailed class boat the ridden hard and put away wet. When found a few years ago in a San Diego boat yard, she was in sad shape and in need of a good home.
Posted today at 6:43 am
OK Dinghy World Championship - Danes dominate glamour first day
Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) and Bo Petersen (DEN) shared the spoils on the first day of the 2016 OK Dinghy World Championship 2016 OK Dinghy World Championship - Jørgen Svendsen (DEN) and Bo Petersen (DEN) shared the spoils on the first day of the 2016 OK Dinghy World Championship in Quiberon, France after a glamour day on the water with unbroken sunshine and a building sea breeze that topped out at 16-18 knots. An impressive 105 OK Dinghies from 10 nations completed registration.
Posted today at 3:35 am
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Sailing Week – Bouncing back on Day 1
Quantum Racing pretty much carried on from where they left off in Sardinia earlier this month, ferociously consistent Quantum Racing pretty much carried on from where they left off in Sardinia earlier this month, ferociously consistent and proving the value of every point gained on each race course. After their ninth and tenth places respectively at the Audi Settimana delle Bocche Vladimir Liubomirov’s Bronenosec and Takashi Okura’s Sled both bounced back with a strong opening day to the third regatta of the five
Posted on 25 Jul
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Sailing Week – Races 1 and 2 images
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from races one and two Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from races one and two
Posted on 25 Jul
New challenges for Oman Air at halfway stage of Extreme Sailing Series
Race organisers have extended the race area on the River Elbe to cater for the higher speeds of the new foiling GC32s. Race organisers have extended the race area on the River Elbe to cater for the higher speeds of the new foiling GC32s but Oman Air skipper Morgan Larson says avoiding errors will still be the biggest challenge if they are to extend their overall lead with their third Act victory of the season.
Posted on 25 Jul
Rolex Swan Cup – A noble approach to sailing
Mention the Swan Cup to any sailor and the feelings evoked are common – great competition in an enviable environment Mention the Swan Cup to any sailor and the feelings evoked are common – great competition in an enviable environment, a prevailing spirit of fair play and an opportunity to sail yachts renowned for their grace, enduring appeal and rich heritage.
Posted on 25 Jul
Comanche's Trans-Atlantic record attempt hits soft spot
Light air zones threaten record-breaking pace as 100ft yacht charges across mid-Atlantic With 1,548 nautical miles left to sail to the finish of the Transatlantic record (as of 08:30 GMT today) at Lizard Point, UK, Comanche remains on course to break Mari Cha IV’s 2003 record. Stan Honey, Comanche navigator, noted this morning: Chilly here. Set the A-3 Gennaker to go deeper. Very flat water. Smooth sailing. Not much wind down low near the cold water. Visibility 10meters.
Posted on 25 Jul
World of Sailing in review - July 2016 edition - Round the Island Race
World Sailing present their July 2016 video magazine featuring the Round the Island race World Sailing present their July 2016 video magazine featuring the Round the Island race (around the Isle of Wight) and preview several personalities and aspects of the upcoming Rio Olympics
Posted on 25 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – More final day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery has provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul
America’s Cup World Series – Final race day images by Ingrid Abery
Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day Ingrid Abery provided this gallery of images from final day
Posted on 25 Jul