On Sunday, June 17th, 24 teams will set off from New Caledonia’s port of Nouméa for a four day, 654 mile non-stop circumnavigation of the island. The New Caledonia Groupama is a combined offshore and coastal race, meaning that endurance and weather strategy will both play a role in the final outcome.
After an initial technical sail through tight passages in order to reach the eastern side of the island, the yachts head northwest towards the New Caledonian barrier reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2016, most teams moved offshore for this leg of the race to get some relief from the flukey wind coming off the mountains.
After passing through Le Grand Passage in New Caledonia's northwest, some teams remained offshore in search of clear airs, while others stuck to a much more challenging coastal tactic, hoping to take advantage of wind compression from the southwest side of the island due to the prevalent wind.
Among this year’s entrants are two all-female teams - Australian sailor Lisa Blair will be part of the crew of the Dove-Défi des Filles, skippered by Sandrine Gravier, president of the Cercle Nautique Calédonien. New Zealand Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat will be in charge of the Ave Gitana.
We wish everyone in the New Caledonia Groupama yacht race safe travels - YB Tracking is with them every step of the way!
Photo Credit: Eric Deroche