Round-the-world crew clock up nearly 3000 miles in four days - at an average speed of 30 knots

By passing Cape Leeuwin this morning (Monday 22 February), Franck Cammas has got onto the same longitude as Orange 2 in 2005. Groupama 3 currently has a deficit of 137 miles, but this is only as a result of her trajectory being 6° further North. As such, this separation could fade to nothing at the entry to the Pacific as Bruno Peyron (Orange 2 Skipper) had to climb up to 50° South at that point.
Between Cape Agulhas and Cape Leeuwin, Groupama 3 achieved the best reference time over this section of the course (about 4,000 miles) – 6 days 22 hours 34 minutes. It’s been a very fast crossing over the past four days. The trimaran has covered 2,893 miles at an average of 30.13 knots, and the boat is just two days from the midway mark now.
“Even though our objective is naturally to make it back to Ushant, it’s a good feeling to have reached Cape Leeuwin so quickly…After a laboured start at the entry to the Indian Ocean, we’ve had smooth seas, steady wind, the boat’s been going fast the whole time and we’re not wearing ourselves out. However Cape Horn is a still a long way off,” explained Lionel Lemonchois at this morning radio link-up with Groupama’s Paris HQ.
Groupama 3 is still sailing in a steady NW?ly wind of twenty-five knots, which has been propelling her along on a particularly straight trajectory 45° S for the past four days. The blistering pace making due East at an average of thirty knots is set to continue till the end of the Indian Ocean too. As such it is possible that another WSSRC record could follow, as the crossing from Cape Agulhas to Tasmania is recognised by sailing’s international record office. Bruno Peyron took 9d 11h 04′.
Still ahead of the front, Franck Cammas won’t see any big changes over the next few hours with a leaden sky, stable wind and increasingly undulating seas set to continue. However, the crew are ticking off the miles and the entry into the Pacific is scheduled over the course of Tuesday night or the early hours of Wednesday. After that, they will have to choose the best way to tackle two lows, which are set to fuse together off New Zealand.
“A low has settled over our course after Tasmania and we have two options. Either we can skirt round New Zealand, or we can go a lot further South. The situation is evolving as we speak, though and it’s likely we can follow an intermediate course. Our navigator Stan Honey is fairly optimistic: he thinks we’ll be able to get ahead of a front again and do approximately the same thing as we did in the Indian Ocean, which is good news! We’re fining down the routing right now but it’s likely we’re going to set a course to the SE on starboard tack from Tuesday evening,” concluded Lemonchois.

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