The front in their sights – Groupama 3

Off Salvador de Bahia this Friday afternoon, Groupama 3 is continuing her southward descent in search of a stormy depression system forming over Brazil. At an average speed of over twenty-five knots, Franck Cammas and his crew have a 680 mile lead over the reference time.

The videoconference organised at Groupama's Race HQ in Paris wasn't able to go ahead for technical reasons related to the faulty Inmarsat transmission, but Franck Cammas was able to participate in the radio session hosted by Stanislas Grenapin in the company of celebrated French weatherman Laurent
Cabrol. Anticyclones, Doldrums, tradewinds, depressions. the skipper of Groupama 3 was able to explain the situation through which they have been navigating since crossing the equator in 5 days fifteen hours.

“It's fine weather with a few cumulus  reminiscent of the good conditions, with slightly shifty tradewinds on the beam. We're having to manouvre fairly frequently, switching between the staysail and solent as the wind varies from 14 to 22 knots… We're being forced to sail right around the outside of the Saint Helena High: we're going to sail along the Brazilian coast for two days to gain southing in order to hook onto a depression, which is currently forming over the South American continent. This will then quickly push us eastwards. However, it's important we don't miss the ride as there aren't any more after that! The encounter is scheduled for lunchtime on Saturday: after that we're going to power away. For the time being, the weather sequence is pretty favourable with an anticyclone ahead of us, which the depression will push along. We're going to have flat seas with downwind conditions! reported the skipper of Groupama 3.


Whilst Jacques Caraës had a chance to show his fellow crew members where he lived (Aber Wrac'h) as they passed close to shore before setting off from Ushant, it's now the turn of Ronan Le Goff to pass in front of his Brazilian home in the bay of Bahia. Indeed the giant trimaran is following a course which is parallel to the coast, even putting a little SW'ly into their route in order to drop down to 22° South as quickly as possible. In fact, due to a different weather situation, Groupama 3 is positioned around 200 miles further West than the Jules Verne Trophy holder. This differential is linked to a passage across the equator which was further West (30° W compared with 26° for Orange 2) as well as the fact that the current priority is not to sail as close to the direct course as possible, but rather to position themselves ahead of the cold front originating in Brazil.

In fact the routes of the two multihulls, with four years' separation, have been fairly similar since the Doldrums. Added to this the speeds are identical, which has served to maintain the stability of Groupama 3's lead (680 miles) over the past two days. In view of the forecast weather conditions, Franck Cammas and his nine crew will bend their course in towards the Cape of Good Hope at approximately the same latitude as Bruno Peyron in 2005 (22° South). This big curve towards the Indian Ocean will above all determine at what latitude the long surfs around the Antarctic will begin. From that point there are over 9,000 miles to cover in the Roaring Forties!

The crew and organisation aboard Groupama 3:

* Watch No.1: Franck Cammas / Loïc Le Mignon / Jacques Caraës
* Watch No.2: Stève Ravussin / Thomas Coville / Bruno Jeanjean
* Watch No.3: Fred Le Peutrec / Lionel Lemonchois / Ronan Le Goff
* Off watch navigator: Stan Honey goes up on deck for manoeuvres
* Each watch lasts three hours
* One watch system on deck, one watch on stand-by ready to help manouvre, one watch totally resting

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. Lionel Lemonchois, Ronan Le Goff and Jacques Caraës were aboard at the time.

Race HQ, 21 Bld Malesherbes, 75008 Paris

Open to the public from 0930 to 1900 hours

Daily telephone link-up from 1130 to 1200 hours

Weekly videoconference on Thursdays from 1230 to 1330 hours
Find all the latest about the Groupama trimarans on:

Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
NAV at Home