Cruising at about 30 knots, French maxi-trimaran Groupama 3 is 250 miles ahead of pace in her bid to capture the round-the-world speed record. As skipper Franck Cammas and his team approach the doldrums, however, there is no guarantee the fair winds will hold.
From the ISAF’s sailing.org:
After the giant slalom along the Portuguese coast, followed by a passage offshore of Madeira and the Canaries, Groupama 3 is now concentrating on her big descent towards the equator. It will be another good day and a half before they reach the Southern hemisphere, at which point they will be able to put in a long tack along the Brazilian coast, still on port tack, until they hang a left and set a course for the Cape of Good Hope. There will be at least five days on the same tack in prospect then, even though the crew will have to frequently manoeuvre as the wind gradually switches from the NE (Northern hemisphere) to the SE (Southern hemisphere).
However, the weather situation isn’t yet very clear off Brazil… “The Southern hemisphere isn’t looking very rosy for the time being! It has been worse though, so there’s still a chance we can get through it… The weather window is pretty tricky, but we no longer have a lot of options. For the moment, things are going rather well: we should even cross the equator earlier than we’d hoped on setting out, after six days at sea! Following on from that it’s more complicated in terms of strategy, but it’s also very nice to have to puzzle over the best way of getting out of these successive ridges of high pressure, the next of which is located off Bahia…” explained skipper Franck Cammas (FRA) during the noon radio link-up with Groupama’s Race HQ in Paris.