This 1500 km race is not for the faint hearted, it is a very physical and hard feat. Weather forecasting, strategy and the physical fitness of the competitors will play an important role in the final outcome of the race. Night, day, along the coast, in open sea: Aeolus never blows the same. When to gybe? When to tack? Which sails to use? Tack towards the coast? Opt for the open sea? These are the questions sailors will be asking themselves during the 4 to 5 days, a sizeable race length during which no one can guarantee the weather.
In 2012 caledonian sailors on the Sydney 38 Mange mieux bouge plus had a double success: Winner in corrected time and winner in scratch just in front of the kiwi boat Bull Rush. Bull Rush lead the pack for 80% of the race and finished just 1 hour and 26 minutes behind the Caledonian.
The current race record stands at 3 days, 23 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds, set by Team Australia Les Nouvelles in 2008 and won’t be easily beaten. The specialists forecast a 5 day race, favourable and “strong” weather conditions meant that a “serious” time of reference was set from the first edition. The Tour of New Caledonia is thus a race against the clock. It is an ocean race worthy of a Sydney-Hobart; with participants hopefully making good weather forecast choices, never lifting the pressure: and battling any technical and tactical issues to victory!
The course starts and finishes at Noumea, with only one compulsory waypoint, to the north of the Grand Passage which is north of the Belep Islands. In view of the strong wind, current and swells in the extreme north of the territory, the race is from East to West coast non-stop, If the Sydney-Hobart has his Bass Strait, the Groupama Race has the mythic Grand Passage where participants will surf on big waves and encounter an abundance of wildlife.
For friends and family who can not make it to the start line there is still a way to watch the race in real time. Each participating yacht will have a Yellowbrick tracker installed on board that will transmit gps co ordinates, speed and direction along with other data to our race viewer every thirty minutes. This means loved ones, friends and international supporters can view the progress of the fleet with just a few clicks of a mouse.
For more information on this competition and to view the race player please visit the Groupama Race