French Rocket Ship Extends Lead
Franck Cammas has Groupama 4 firing on all cylinders as his team pushes the boat hard towards the Doldrum belt ahead. There is no let-up and Cammas is intent on putting as many hours as possible between his team and the chasing pack in conditions in which Groupama 4 simply excels.
Cammas reported this afternoon that his helmsmen are having a ball steering the boat, but the wind is on the beam, the sea is messy and the spray constantly crashing over the deck is giving the red-eyed crew a tough time. The boat is wet both on deck and down below.
The east south-easterly trade winds are becoming more unstable as the fleet progresses north towards the no-wind zone. It is Cammas’ plan to position Groupama 4 between the fleet and the unpredictable Doldrums, an area where a substantial lead can be very easily be swallowed up by the chasing pack.
However, there is no threat tonight from the four boats behind, which all lost miles on the French team between the 1600 and 1900 UTC position reports. Their nearest rival, PUMA’s Mar Mostro (Ken Read/USA) need to close a gap of 78.6 nautical miles (nm) and Read has a 10-mile buffer on overall race leader Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP). CAMPER (Chris Nicholson/AUS) are a further 20 nm in deficit, while Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) are a shade under 230 nautical miles in arrears. None can match the 21.5-knot average speed of the French rocket ship and only PUMA are coming close, but still a knot slower.
Groupama are expected to enter the ‘stealth zone’, an area where the positions of the fleet will remain undisclosed in order to protect the crews from pirate activity, on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, Team Sanya remain in Madagascar where they are working to repair damage suffered to their rig on Monday while in the lead. They have suspended racing from this leg.