After four hours of sailing across the Bay of Biscay, Groupama 3 is very much on track for rounding Cape Finisterre prior to daybreak on Monday morning. This would enable the crew to escape the calm conditions which are set to invade the Spanish headland. As such this unexpected departure, due to a favourable evolution in the weather situation, bodes well for a swift sprint as far as the Canaries.
Nothing has been decided yet though as this initial night at sea is essential for the next stage in this Jules Verne Trophy attempt! After setting off from Ushant at 13h 55' 53'' (UTC) this Sunday 31st January on the back of a rain front generating a N'ly wind of around ten knots in the big springs (111), Franck Cammas and his nine crew have quickly joined up with a wind becoming increasingly steady the further offshore they get. The solent jib has been replaced by a gennaker in the brisker conditions on fairly manageable seas, the maxi trimaran making an average of thirty knots at sunset!
Having already covered over a hundred miles in four hours, Groupama 3 is in phase with the weather routing and, despite the fact that the breeze is set to ease in the early hours, Franck Cammas and his men should still have traversed the Bay of Biscay before daybreak. As such, they should be in a perfect position to slip along beneath the zone of high pressure, currently shifting across towards Spain, in a moderate E'ly breeze. The sailing conditions are considerably more pleasant than they were during the last record attempt in November, however the crew can't afford to make any mistakes and will have to be extremely vigilant to negotiate a gybe during the course of the night. As this departure on the Jules Verne Trophy was rushed due to a favourable evolution in the forecasts, the crew are going to need to have their fingers on the pulse from the off! Fortunately the full moon will light the way and, given that the giant trimaran has headed off on the back of a rain front, the boat will be able to make headway effortlessly in rising temperatures and calm seas.
It remains that the movement of these zones of high pressure in the Atlantic will be the first Justice of the Peace along the 24,375 mile course stretching around the world… The way through this tricky stage may well be blocked more suddenly than forecast at which point the crew will have to hold their steed on a tight rein so as to skirt around the low, which is currently filling in off the Canaries. The aim of crossing the equator within six days is feasible and would put Groupama 3 a day ahead of Bruno Peyron's reference time (7d 02h 58'). – http://www.cammas-groupama.com