Banque Populaire Truly In The South

14 Dec

The big maxi-trimaran has had a dream run so far, and is passing New Zealand after just 20 days. But now it gets trickier as they are at 56S and the Southern Ocean threatens BP's 2000 mile lead over Groupama 3 with strong winds and boat-threatening conditions, then light air, and, to top it all off, a big depression as they descend toward Cape Horn. But that's what they (and we) signed up for.

For the first time, their daily video really looks as if they are in the Southern Ocean. 

And here is the report from the boat, via the excellent Banque Populaire Jules Verne thread on Sailing Anarchy:

The sea state has improved. The swell is becoming very long. We had a very rough beginning of the night with very short seas. We had to slow down quite a lot, but now, it's OK. We nevertheless could not avoid a drop behind quite an impressive wave, this morning. We most likely broke the instantaneous speed record of the boat, over 48 knots… in free fall. It was rather with the help of Newton, than Eole. The troughs are 10 meters deep, once in a while, but with a very long period, not far from 200 meters between 2 crests. We can handle this, no problem…

From the data we have, there is no ice for the next 48 hours. On the other hand, smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we already have the location of a number of "ice cubes", including a baby of 7 kilometers long. And we know very well that it is smack in the middle but much further North, by 53°/54° South. We are going to go up slowly but surely, to avoid this ice area that we already know precisely.

We know that we are going to get very difficult weather conditions in 48 hours, just after New Zealand, on the edge of a high pressure system. We are going to have very, very strong North winds. We are going to be on a beam reach with 40 knots of wind, most likely. We cannot avoid it, and it is not going to be very comfortable, because this is the point of sail where we cannot slow down, or it is very difficult. I have a feeling this is going to end up with a bare pole, or maybe with 3 reefs, at least. And right after that, there will be not much wind, because of that high pressure system. For now, there is a forecast of a very big low pressure system just before Cape Horn. It seems that it is pretty much stuck in this area. But you expect pretty much anything in those latitudes. It cannot be just a walk in the park…

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