Departure imminent for Groupama 3

Groupama 3 - Jules Verne Trophy attempt 2007
Jules Verne Trophy - (Crewed circumnavigation around the three capes).

After a month and a half's wait at its base in Lorient, Groupama 3 is due to set off on its Jules Verne Trophy attempt from the Créac'h lighthouse off Ushant, late morning on Thursday 24 January. The programme for Franck Cammas and his nine crew: to reach the equator in six days and complete a circumnavigation in less than fifty days.


'Everything comes to those who wait.' This proverb is very fitting for the crew of Groupama 3 on stand-by since 6th December 2007. Solely two weather `windows' have presented themselves in the past month and a half and neither of these were sufficiently striking for the 31.50 metre maxi-trimaran to set off on the 21,600 miles that make up the Jules Verne Trophy course.

The reasons for this are that on this record, held by Orange II since 2005 (50 days 16 hours 20 minutes 4 seconds), the gain acquired over the first phase of the course is initial proof of success. In this way, the mid range forecast gives a descent of the Atlantic in six days, which would provide Franck Cammas' crew with a day's bonus on changing hemisphere.

This Thursday, a zone of rain will sweep across the Breton coast early in the day. These showers will be associated with a good 25-30 knot NW'ly breeze, quickly backing to the North in the Bay of Biscay. Twelve hours later, at the approach to Cape Finisterre, there should be thirty knots of NE'ly winds, set to drop to around twenty knots of E'ly off Lisbon. As a result, this sequence of weather is very favourable, not just in terms of angle in relation to the wind since Groupama 3 is extremely fast with the wind on the beam (over 30 knots average speed), but above all due to the very manageable sea state (offshore breeze off Portugal).

The only blip on the horizon to date: the passage of the Canaries, as a low out at sea is disrupting the classic tradewind pattern. Groupama 3's pace could be slowed for half a day at this stage of the course, but it should then pick up nicely before the Cape Verde islands, with E'ly breezes practically all the way to the Doldrums...

Interview from Sylvain Mondon of Météo France

'The start configuration is good, with a front crossing the Bay of Biscay, pushed by a zone of high pressure in the Atlantic, which is shifting eastwards. As a result, early morning on Thursday 24 January, there will be a brutal wind rotation to the NW off Brittany. The passage of the front over the island of Ushant should determine the hour of their departure; forecasts this lunchtime showing a window between 05:00 and 17:00 GMT. In fact, the Azores High isn't in its usual position and there is a stormy low off the Canaries, which is in the process of filling in.

This phenomenon is causing a disturbance in the NE'ly tradewinds along the coast of Mauritania, which is disrupting the breeze between the Canaries and Cape Verde. There is a degree of uncertainty about this stage of the course then, but it is likely that the deterioration of this stormy low will enable the trades to rapidly return to their usual pattern: it should take six days to reach the equator...'

The ten men on Groupama 3 are therefore ready to go and will climb aboard the trimaran on Wednesday afternoon prior to casting off around 1600 hours GMT, bound for Ushant.

The `Jules Verne' crew on Groupama 3:

Watch leader - helm: Franck Cammas (Skipper), Franck Proffit, Stève Ravussin
Second helm: Frédéric Le Peutrec / Loic Le Mignon / Sébastien Audigane
No.1: Ronan Le Goff / Jan Dekker / Jacques Caraës
Navigator: Yves Parlier
Onshore weather expert: Sylvain Mondon (Météo France)

www.cammas-groupama.com