Please select your home edition
Edition
InSunSport - International - Endure

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

Southern Spars - 100Bakewell-White Yacht DesignT Clewring J-class

Related Articles

Supermaxi Scallywag has her first outing on Sydney Harbour
Scallywag is a 100' Super Maxi Yacht (ex Ragamuffin 100) owned by a HongKong Business man. Scallywag is a 100' Super Maxi Yacht (ex Ragamuffin 100) owned by a HongKong Business man. Yesterday the boat took it first sail on Sydney Harbour in preparation for this weekend's start of the CYCA Land Rover Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race
Posted on 28 Jul
Extreme Sailing Series– Oman Air sneak early lead despite bump on nose
Hamburg’s River Elbe in the HafenCity area was transformed into the ultimate test in Stadium Racing today Hamburg’s River Elbe in the HafenCity area was transformed into the ultimate test in Stadium Racing today, with the narrow river, passing traffic, high walls, shifty light winds and strong currents challenging the fleet on the opening day
Posted on 28 Jul
52 Super Series – Puerto Portals Week – Quantum Racing top of the pops
Quantum Racing stand on the threshold of their third regatta win of the season after sailing to their fourth win today. The Bay of Palma lived up to its one way traffic reputation for most of the time. The risk-reward equation for those pressing for the pin end launch was high. But significantly both of today’s race winners – Quantum Racing and Bronenosec– favoured the lower risk mid line starts where they had a better chance of coming away from the gun at maximum speed by staying clear of the jousting and jostling
Posted on 28 Jul
Debriefing the 2015-16 Clipper Round The World Race with Huw Fernie
Sail-World talked with Huw Fernie of Visit Seattle to learn more about a Clipper Round The World Race skipper’s life. Skipper Huw Fernie and his Visit Seattle crew took top honors in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, marking their second podium finish during the 2015/16 Clipper Round The World Race. I recently caught up with Fernie to learn more about Visit Seattle’s success in the Den Helder Northern Seas Challenge, and to learn more about the life of a Clipper Round The World Race skipper.
Posted on 28 Jul
Oman Air quick to master light airs on Day 1 of Extreme Sailing Series
Last year’s wild and gusty winds gave way to light simmering airs but the Oman Sail was quick to master the conditions. The compact River Elbe race course, bordered on all sides by cargo containers and all the handling equipment associated with one of the busiest ports in the world, was expected to be tricky for the GC32 fleet even though the race area had been expanded.
Posted on 28 Jul
Finale of Clipper Race global series starts in The Netherlands
The 198nm race to London is going to be one of the most nail-biting yet with just six points separating the top teams After a Departure Ceremony from Willemsoord Marina and a Parade of Sail in the presence of Dutch Royal Navy ship ZrMs Luymes, the fleet started the final short sprint to London off the Dutch coast.
Posted on 28 Jul
Thousands of spectators expected to welcome home Clipper Race fleet
Hurricane winds, giant waves, freezing conditions, battered boats and tragedy fail to quell fighting spirit of the crew. The tenth edition of the famous biennial race for novice sailors led by professional skippers is regarded as the most challenging on record after the event endured the most extreme conditions it has ever faced in its 20-year history.
Posted on 28 Jul
Trans-Atlantic record- Comanche sets new monohull record
Comanche has crossed the virtual finish line off the Lizard, England in her attempt to set two new world sailing records Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark's supermaxi Comanche has crossed the virtual finish line off the Lizard, England in her attempt to set two new world sailing records. She finished at 11:45 UTC on Thursday July 28,2016, having left New York on Saturday July 23, 2016.
Posted on 28 Jul
Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup - France Blue blasts back
The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup race course took on a different complexion today. The Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup race course took on a different complexion today. A front passed through early morning leaving behind it a lumpy sea, further kicked up by a strong eastbound tide.
Posted on 28 Jul
52 Super Series - Double bullet Quantum jump clear
Two hard earned wins for Quantum Racing elevates the team which is steered by owner Doug DeVos Two hard earned wins for Quantum Racing elevates the team which is steered by owner Doug DeVos to a lead of four points ahead of Azzurra at the 52 Super Series’ Puerto Portals Sailing Week on the Bay of Palma.
Posted on 28 Jul