The crew of Groupama 3 have been forced to make a detour, causing them to lose a large part of their lead
Around 1,000 miles from Cape Horn, the sailing conditions are fairly fresh, with over thirty knots of NW’ly wind and fairly chaotic seas. Their need to deviate from the course by carving out a curved wake has seen Groupama 3 climb to 47° S, and has caused her to lose a large part of the lead.
After covering nearly 750 miles across the ground over the past 24 hours, 575 miles of those were on a direct course, meaning the trimaran has lost close to 350 miles from their lead over the past three days. However, if all goes to plan, the loss will subside over the coming hours as Orange 2 also had to make a detour the day before she rounded Cape Horn. But given that the wind will ease as they approach Chile, in what will still be messy seas, it will be difficult for Franck Cammas to hold onto even a small cushion of a lead after this third cape.
“The sun is in the process of rising: however, we’ve covered a fair amount of ground to the East so the day is beginning earlier. Over the past five hours, the front has crept right up with us and the wind is very shifty in terms of strength. As such we’ve reduced the sails to three reefs in the mainsail and staysail. The wind is gusting to forty knots and we’re being forced to make headway underpowered. Fortunately the sea state isn’t too bad and the boat isn’t under too much pressure,” indicated Franck Cammas.
“The front will roll over the top of us soon and we’re going to gybe onto a SE’ly course towards Cape Horn. The wind will then ease gradually and we’ll have to hoist more sail aloft, so that is what’s on the menu later today. We’re becoming increasingly slick with the manoeuvres, but we’re still remaining very prudent so as to avoid breaking any gear. In fact it was the first time we’ve put in the third reef since leaving Ushant! We’ve never had so much wind on this round the world.”
Two possible routes
Cape Horn may not mark any real change in the sailing conditions for Franck Cammas. Though the wind will streak ahead of them, Groupama 3 will still have to make a big detour a long way offshore of the Falkland Islands. As such, a northbound course and a big turn to the left isn’t on the cards just yet.
“The wind we’re trying to keep to our stern behind this low is going to try to get ahead of us. As a result we’re likely to have to adopt a rather atypical course, which will take us a very long way South of Cape Horn and continue eastwards across the Southern Ocean for an extra 24 hours. There’s a zone of high pressure between Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands we’ll have to get round. There is another possibility though. We could hug the coast of South America, but we’d have to brave strong headwinds! We’ll make our decision tomorrow. It’s possible we won’t be able to take any photos of Cape Horn,” concluded Cammas.
Groupama 3’s log over the past week:
Day 24 (24 February): 638 miles (lead 208 miles)
Day 25: 712 miles (lead 371 miles)
Day 26: 687 miles (lead 430 miles)
Day 27: 797 miles (lead 560 miles)
Day 28: 560 miles (lead 517 miles)
Day 29: 434 miles (lead 268 miles)
Day 30: 575 miles (lead 184 miles)
WSSRC record for the Pacific Ocean crossing (from the South of Tasmania to Cape Horn)
Orange 2 (2005): 8d 18h 08′