Equal at Cape Leeuwin

Equal at Cape Leeuwin
As they pass the longitude of the second symbolic cape of a round-the-world voyage, Spindrift 2 is showing a deficit in time of 11 hours and 25 minutes, but in reality, the more southerly trajectory of the trimaran, led by Yann Guichard, means it is 40 miles ahead. Having struggled with a ridge of high pressure for two days, the crew can see a way out with the arrival of a depression coming from Madagascar.

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Catching up the ridge
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It is difficult to explain how a boat can be in front when it is behind. But this is exactly what is happening on the water between Spindrift 2, who passed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin at 115° 08’ East, this Thursday, December 10 at 15:27 GMT and Banque Populaire V’s record time in 2011. The explanation is that the closer a boat is to the South Pole, the shorter its way around Antarctica, because the earth is a sphere. For example, a boat that sails along 40° South covers 459 miles for every 10° of longitude, but the same boat sailing along 50° South travels only 385 miles: a difference of 74 miles. So, for the same speed and the same course, the difference is significant.

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Judgement day(s) in the Pacific
Spindrift 2 recorded 18 days 11 hours and 25 minutes to reach the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, since leaving Ushant on Sunday, November 22. It has covered 12,295 miles at an average speed of 27.73 knots. The delta with the record time is not prohibitive, even with the weather conditions forecast until tomorrow (Friday) not being favourable for reducing it: the ridge of high pressure blocking the black and gold trimaran is expected to dissipate slowly at the entrance into the Pacific Ocean (south of Tasmania) by Saturday at dawn, and should not substantially change the situation.

There should be a marked acceleration in the approach to Tasmania as this ridge will be blown away by the depression coming from Madagascar that will slide under Australia. This tropical depression will provide a powerful north-westerly flow and enable Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard and their twelve crewmates to remain at 50° South at least until the southern tip of New Zealand. But it is really the Pacific that will determine the result of this Jules Verne Trophy as Banque Populaire V was very slow with a crossing of 12 days 22 hours from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Horn, when its predecessor, Groupama 3, had managed this part in 10d 14h.

Yann Guichard speaking on the satphone late on Thursday afternoon:
It’s not been an easy Indian Ocean because of the ice, but notably it was a quick Indian at the start and slow for the rest. In particular, the last two days, where we’ve got caught with a ridge of high pressure, that is stopping us from fully expressing the capabilities of the boat. And this may last until we are south of Tasmania. The wind will definitely strengthen from tomorrow (Friday) and we’ll accelerate a little.

As Banque Populaire V was quite slow in the Pacific, we can hope to be ahead at Cape Horn, but it’s still a long way away. For now, the performance of both crews is close and should remain almost identical until Auckland. But all this remains somewhat hypothetical because all the times on the Jules Verne Trophy are established in relation to an ideal route that no one can follow: when the holder is further south than us virtually, it gains ground, and vice versa.

So far, there is no drift ice ahead of us but this will depend on our route. The Pacific looks pretty calm, without large depressions. For now, there is no big weather either ahead of or behind us. In addition, we’re assessing the use of the port foil and don’t know if we can use it again. This will inevitably affect our performance over the long term.”

“We see a lot of birds following us; some petrels from the Cape, but in terms of the light, it’s rather grey and we haven’t seen the Southern Lights yet. Anyway, we have the right number of crew on board and the watch system is working effectively.”

Times for Spindrift 2’s Cape Leeuwin passage
Passage to the longitude of Cape Leeuwin (115° 08′ E) on Thursday, 10/12/2015 at 15:27:15 GMT
Ushant-Cape Leeuwin: 18 days 11 hours 25 minutes 17 seconds;
11 hours 25 minutes 17 seconds behind the time of Banque Populaire V;
12,295 miles covered at an average of 27.73 knots.