With only a few hours deficit on the reference time, the crew remain optimistic

The favourable wind, which has been propelling Franck Cammas and his nine crew along for the past two days, is beginning to run out of breath. As such the giant trimaran is expecting to lose a little speed today (Monday 15 February), prior to being hit by a northerly gale.

Franck Cammas and his men hoisted the heavy airs gennaker around 11:00 hours UTC yesterday, with one reef in the mainsail. In fact, the cold front that Groupama 3 hooked onto 48 hours ago hasn’t managed to get past them and most of yesterday they were averaging speeds of 30 knots.

“We’ve been hammering along for the past couple of days! It’s not been very comfortable with a very jerky motion. The boat is in perfect condition, as are we… It is grey though, with little visibility and no moon at night. It’s been quite difficult to helm well when you can’t see anything: you really have to be on the alert, have a good feel for the trimaran so you know the best place to position her and avoid falling into a hole at over 35 knots, or even 40! It’s both a subtle and an exciting exercise. It’s a luxury to be on a boat which gives you such a thrill and such pleasure…” indicated Thomas Coville at the 11:30 UTC radio link-up with Groupama’s Race HQ in Paris.

Positioned at 41° South for the past couple of days, Groupama 3 is set to progressively bend her course towards the ESE as the northerly breeze kicks in this evening. By diving further South, Franck Cammas and his men will be shortening their course around the Antarctic, as there is less distance to be travelled the more the boat sails in the high latitudes.

“The Forties are never the same twice, but the Indian Ocean remains the worst of the three. The period ahead of us as far as Cape Leeuwin is the one I fear the most! The sea state is often very chaotic and this puts boat structures under a lot of stress: you have to prepare for it well, stay concentrated, protect yourself, eat and sleep as soon as you can. For now we haven’t dipped into our physical capital: we’re all really taking care of each other. Crewed sailing involves having respect for yourself and others and everyone has to be in good shape to go fast… We always marvel at sailing in the Southern Ocean though. It’s the seventh time I’ve come here and it has a pureness and an untouched quality which is fascinating. For the time being the entry hasn’t been harsh.”

“We only have a few hours deficit on the reference time, but we’re not thinking about it too much: we’re concentrating on making as fast a headway as possible. We’ll have to drop down further South after a brief spell of slightly lighter conditions. After that though, there’s going to be nearly 40 knots of northerly so things will get harder! Logically we should be able to slip along nicely as far as Cape Leeuwin… If we get through this harsh section, beam onto the wind, tomorrow, we’ll be in a good position to take on the Indian Ocean.”

Groupama 3’s log over the past week:

Day 8 (8 February): 305 miles (lead 456 miles)
Day 9: 436 miles (lead 393 miles)
Day 10: 355 miles (lead 272 miles)
Day 11: 267 miles (deficit 30 miles)
Day 12: 247 miles (deficit 385 miles)
Day 13: 719 miles (deficit 347 miles)
Day 14: 680 miles (deficit 288 miles)

Best passage time from Ushant to Equator: Groupama 3 with 5d 15h 23′ (November 2009)

Jules Verne Trophy reference time to Equator: Orange 2 with 7d 02h 56′ (January 2005)

The record to beat: Currently held by Bruno Peyron on Orange 2 since 2005 with a time of 50 days 16 hours 20 minutes at an average of 17.89 knots.

For more, visit www.cammas-groupama.com