Groupama Racing the Clock, Orange 2

After a slow start, skipper Franck Cammas and his maxi trimaran Groupama 3 are now locked in a tight “virtual match race” with Bruno Peyron’s 38-meter catamaran Orange 2.

Cammas is about midway through an attempt at the Jules Verne Trophy, which is awarded to the boat with the fastest circumnavigation. Orange 2 currently holds the record—completing the 27,000-mile course in 50 days, 16 hours in early 2005—and Cammas and company are distinctly aware of how they are doing against Peyron’s time every step of the way.

On Cammas’ first attempt in late 2009, Groupama 3 suffered hull damage and had to divert to South Africa. The boat was then sailed back to France, where it was repaired and Cammas and his nine-man crew set sail on January 31.

South of the equator the boat encountered light winds as a result of a quirky St. Helena High. But it was able to make up for lost time once it reached the Southern Ocean. In the process, Groupama 3 set a new record for crossing the Indian Ocean, sailing from just off South Africa to the longitude of Tasmania in 8 days, 17 hours—about 17 hours faster than Peyron did.

The boat is now rocketing toward Cape Horn, treading a fine line in search of enough, but not too much wind.

“Nearly 750 miles across the ground over the past 24 hours, but just 575 miles of those on a direct course,” the team recently reported. “The detour above a rather angry low is proving to be highly disadvantageous, to the extent that close to 350 miles have been lost from Groupama 3′s lead over the past three days! If all goes to plan, the loss will subside over the coming hours as Orange 2 also had to make a detour the day before she rounded Cape Horn.”

For more on Groupama 3’s Jules Verne attempt, click here.

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