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L'arrivo di un fronte freddo ha provocato un leggero cambio di direzione del vento e Groupama 3, impegnato da un giorno e mezzo nel...

[singlepic id=3587 w=300 h=204 float=left]Vela e record – Oceano Atlantico – L’arrivo di un fronte freddo ha provocato un leggero cambio di direzione del vento e Groupama 3, impegnato da un giorno e mezzo nel tentativo di migliorare sé stesso lungo la rotta che unisce il faro di Ambrose a Lizard Point, si appresta a vivere quelle che, secondo i meteorologi, saranno le ore migliori della sua traversata.

Una buona notizia per gli uomini di Franck Cammas, al momento in leggero ritardo rispetto al loro stesso primato. A determinare il gap negativo sono stati due eventi meteo distinti, che si sono rivelati meno favorevoli del previsto. In pratica il vento è stato meno costante di quanto pronosticato dai responsabili del team meteo.

Va comunque sottolineato che un ritardo di poco superiore alle 30 miglia non pregiudica affatto le speranze dell’equipaggio francese, specie ora che il multiscafo è tornato sulla rotta diretta spinto da venti di sudovest di circa 30 nodi, dati in aumento sino a 35 nel corso delle prossime ore.

Grazie allo stato del mare favorevole, Groupama 3 sta puntando Lizard Point a una media prossima ai 34 nodi.

[Groupama 3 Press Release] With the arrival off Newfoundland of the cold front from Canada, the wind has shifted up a gear this Friday morning: after slowing down last night Groupama 3 now has the pedal to the metal and is set to achieve her best day in this Transatlantic record attempt…

The slight deficit on the reference time is the result of two weather sequences, which were less favourable than planned and occurred on Thursday afternoon off Sable Island and on Thursday night off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. They aren’t likely to affect the final outcome however, as around thirty miles represents just an hour’s sailing! Indeed Groupama 3 is back on track for Lizard Point with a favourable 30 knot SW’ly, which is set to increase to over 35 knots. As the sea state is manageable, even though it is beginning to build, Groupama 3‘s average speed remains constant at over 34 knots.

Considerable acceleration
Onboard on standby watch, Frédéric Le Peutrec looked back at the first 36 hours at sea and the virtual duel between Groupama 3 and Banque Populaire V (the latter setting out from New York 2h 35 later): “The day broke an hour and a half ago: we’re flat out with the wind on the beam, in the process of leaving the Grand Banks of Newfoundland in our wake. The seas are gradually building, but it isn’t a nasty sea state and the breeze is increasing progressively: we’re regularly making between 35 and 40 knots of boat speed! We’re on the attack…”.

“We had a tricky passage skirting around a zone with less wind, but Pascal Bidégorry also lost a bit of time. We’re on a direct route for the Lizard and we know he’s right behind us after gaining a bit of ground, but we’re not letting up an inch! We’ve managed to successfully get our teeth into the cold front, which is now pushing us along as we hold on for dear life… We can’t see much outside due to the fog, but the SW’ly wind isn’t cold, even though it’s rather damp. We have between 25 and 30 knots of breeze and a few hours ago we dropped the gennaker so we could hoist the staysail and we’re ready to reef the mainsail. If all goes to plan the wind is set to fill in, at which point conditions will become increasingly feisty!”.

“We’ve got ahead of the disturbance so it’s an excellent day for exceeding 800 miles in 24 hours. The air flow is stable and the front is set to carry us along all the way to the finish. Our position to the South of the low is favourable for not having too big a sea state, though we’re still going to be shaken about!”.

“The two helmsmen are sharing the three hour watch and as the wind fills in we’re reducing the time spent at the helm in order to stay concentrated. Nevertheless, there are a fair number of manoeuvres to adapt the sail area and make slight adjustments to the trim. Stan Honey, our navigator, is playing a big part keeping us informed and optimising the trajectory. You also have to be vigilant on the water so as not to hit a whale, a floating object or a cargo ship…”

“There’s no particular strategy with this stable wind: we’re keeping an eye on the rear view mirror to watch the difference in potential with Pascal Bidégorry’s steed. We’re keeping to our own pace as we did in the Mediterranean record. Though Pascal and his crew are slightly faster than us and they don’t have any manoeuvring problems, it’s going to be tough to make up our slight deficit… We’re focussing on our navigation whilst giving our all to the battle: we can’t do much more than we’ve been doing! We’re in good humour, relaxed and concentrated, respecting our recovery time…”

To the South of the Great Circle Route
In analysing the distances covered every twelve hours, we can observe that the two trimarans are still totally within the time limit to break the Transatlantic Record (4d 03h 57′ 54”). In 2007, Groupama 3 had to bear off to the East and even the South-East for a few hours to sail along the Northern edge of the Azores High, to the extent that she had to gybe three times… As such her second day at sea wasn’t very fast and so Groupama 3 lost nearly a hundred miles in 24 hours on the previous record! As a result it is virtually a done deal that Franck Cammas and his nine crew will this Friday evening (after two days at sea) have racked up a lead over the reference time of several tens of miles. Indeed, from this Friday afternoon the virtual trajectories will cross each other and the lead over the reference time of 2007 will be considerable, even prior to reaching the midway point (forecast for around 1900 hours UT). This crossroads in the middle of the Atlantic is highly likely to be the key point in this transatlantic, for both the participating candidates…

Now 120 miles to the South of the Great Circle Route (direct route), Groupama 3 will be able to make a beeline for the tip of England by keeping ahead of the cold front: as such the trajectory promises to be optimal with an average speed nudging 35 knots! As a result the ETA remains Sunday afternoon or early evening, which would be within several hours of the record. It remains to be seen if Pascal Bidégorry and his crew have a real bonus in these stiff weather conditions with their longer (+9m) and more powerful trimaran in big seas. The rhythm forecast this Friday afternoon is set to throw the speedo into turmoil in any case…

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