Despite an unfavourable heading towards the Cape of Good Hope, Groupama's pace is enabling them to maintain a lead over Orange 2's reference time

Groupama 3 has been forced to pick out a course South-Southwest (the position of the Saint Helena high is not favouring progress towards the Cape of Good Hope) before slowly straightening out to the South this afternoon (Monday 8 February). As a result her lead over the reference time is lessening.

Read previous story here.
The high pressure in the Southern Atlantic is forming a barrier off Argentina and forcing the giant trimaran to trace a course way out to the West, along the Brazilian coast. Just 150 miles from shore, Groupama 3 made good headway over the weekend though, before the tradewinds switched round onto a more N’ly track during the course of last night.
“On deck it’s really pleasant with glorious sunshine and a light breeze under large gennaker…Down below though, it’s an oven! We found it difficult to sleep last night as it was stifling. We’re finally diving southward now as the wind is gradually shifting round to the NE. The breeze is fluctuating but last night we were still able to sail faster than planned: we were regularly making headway at over thirty knots. As such we’re a little bit ahead in relation to the weekend’s routing. We lost a bit of ground this morning as things have calmed down: we’re making headway at between twenty and twenty-five knots. The wind began to rotate last night between the clouds. We’re soon going to have to gybe when the breeze backs rounds to the North…” explained Lionel Lemonchois during the radio link-up with Groupama’s Race HQ in Paris.
Offshore this Monday afternoon, Franck Cammas and his men will have to wait another day or two before they can straighten the helm. It’s not yet clear whether they’ll be able to hook onto a cold front forming over Porto Alegre as it shifts across towards Africa. However, if they make contact at the right time, the descent towards the Cape of Good Hope will be extremely fast. As a result there is a considerable amount of work in prospect, as much on deck as at the chart table, in order to extract themselves from this tricky section as quickly as possible.

A closer look at the crew as they cross the Equator:

“We’re not going to be able to hang a left straightaway! We’ll probably have to link together a series of gybes almost as far down as the Roaring Forties before we can set a course for the East…We’re on track to make a sizeable detour to hook onto a front in the South however, if we miss it, we’ll be two days behind on passing Cape Leeuwin! We’re going to have to pull out all the stops. The situation is changing from one grib file to the next so it’s still hard to know when we’re going to round the first cape, Good Hope. There’s going to be very little in it…”
In any case, Groupama 3 should pass the 20,000 miles to go mark on this Jules Verne Trophy from noon tomorrow (Tuesday 9 February).

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Groupama 3’s Log:

Day 1 (1 February): 500 miles (deficit 94 miles)
Day 2 (2 February): 560 miles (lead 3.5 miles)
Day 3 (3 February): 535 miles (lead 170 miles)
Day 4 (4 February): 565 miles (lead 245 miles)
Day 5 (5 February): 656 miles (lead 562 miles)
Day 6 (6 February): 456 miles (lead 620 miles)
Day 7 (7 February): 430 miles (lead 539 miles)
Day 8 (8 February): 305 miles (lead 456 miles)