New Caledonia Groupama Race / 654nm / 19 – 28 Jun 2020
9 DAYS / CAT 1 OCEAN RACE
Open to monohulls and multihulls greater than 8.5m, the New Caledonia Groupama Race is described as the world’s longest windward/leeward race. It starts from Nouméa on June 14 2020 and takes a counter clockwise course around New Caledonia, alongside reefs and inside the UNESCO World Heritage listed lagoon, with only one compulsory waypoint: “North of the Grand Passage which is North of the Belep Islands”. Given the strong winds, powerful currents and heavy swells in the extreme north, the race is up the east coast and down the west coast… non-stop, without rest and with a regular soaking from the warm seas of 22° south. The Sydney-Hobart has its Bass Strait; the Groupama Race has its mythic Grand Passage, where you will surf down big waves and see plenty of wildlife. It’s a great gathering of international sailors for a unique ocean race around the biggest lagoon in the world. Once the sailors arrive at the northern end of the race course, a transition phase awaits; ‘Le Grand Passage’, or as the locals refer to the area; “our Cape Horn”. The sea state can be challenging at this point; with big waves, strong winds and powerful currents. The sea life is also stunning with tuna, whales and manta rays galore.
With four feeder races delivering fleets from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Australia as well as Auckland, New Zealand, these are a key component for gathering a great fleet, for the ultimate Groupama Race around New Caledonia. Eventually, the fleet all end up back at the starting point in Noumea where crews are welcomed 24/7 by the friendly Cercle Nautique Calédonien staff and volunteers with a hot shower and a hearty meal at the club on offer for all.
An island to sail round, more than 654-mile broad reaching and on the wind
The start of the 6th Round New Caledonia yacht race is 21st June 2020. A 1500 Kms course. This event is physical and tough. Weather strategy and the crews’ physical condition will are the key to victory.
Night, day, hug the coast, keep out to sea: The wind is ever changing. When to gybe? When to tack? Which sails to set? Tack inshore? Head offshore? These are the questions our crews will be asking themselves …
The Tour of New Caledonia is thus a race against the clock. It is an ocean race worthy of a Sydney-Hobart; four days racing, choosing the right weather options, never letting up: a technical and tactical contest where victory is the prize!
New Caledonia lies in the direction of the SE Trades: NW – SE. That is to say that in “normal” trade wind conditions, competitors will have a bit more 300nm spinnaker run and 300nm thrashing to windward
Everything is there to make this competition a classic offshore race:
- The race is open to mono-hulls and multi-hulls
- A 654 miles windward and leeward race
- It is both offshore and coastal
- 2 favourite points of sailing, running and beating: a true giant Olympic course
- A stunning environment; the course runs alongside reefs and in a lagoon which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- It is run in favourable weather conditions: warm water & trade winds
- It takes place in a region where you can find some of the best sailors in the World (our closeness to Australia and New Zealand makes it possible to have quality crews taking part)
- Experienced and enthusiastic local racing crews
Though considered a race in paradise, the Groupama Race around the island of Noumea will prove tactically difficult for all crews who accept the challenge
Taking between two and a half five days to complete the 654 nautical mile course the fleet of monohull and multihull yachts will trace a course around New Caledonia, a jewel of the Pacific Southwest.
An offshore and coastal race
Placed exactly in the axis of the tradewinds, the Groupama Race is both an offshore and coastal race that offers sailors the opportunity to strategize and navigate the best route based on the sea state, currents and weather.
Latitude 22 ° south
The route is simple enough. Under the direction of the organising club, Cercle Nautique Calédonien Yacht Club, the fleet starts off their journey in Nouméa and finish back at Nouméa with only two compulsory points they must pass on the northernmost point of the island.
300nm surfing under spinnaker
When the fleet passes the southernmost point of New Caledonia, high-speed downwind rides are possible for the next 24-48hrs.
This is our Cape Horn
Once the sailors arrive in the far north, a transition phase awaits – Le Grand Passage – or as the locals refer to the area: “our Cape Horn”. The sea can be cross at this point; the waves bigger, and the wind and current more powerful. The sea life is also bountiful; it’s where banks of tuna, whales and manta rays abound.
From 1000m to 2m depth under the keel
As the fleet follows the descent to the island’s south there could be a 24 – 48 hour period of upwind sailing and being soaked by 26-degree warm-water waves.
Along the reef nearest to the west, some sailors try to protect themselves from the waves and look for calmer waters. Others take the option of heading further offshore before returning to the lagoon.
Eventually, the fleet ends up back at Noumea where crews are welcomed any time of the day or night by helpful CNC staff and volunteers and invited to have a hot shower and a hearty meal at the club. Then it’s down to the business of recounting the highlights and the moments when each crew’s Groupama Race was won or lost.
The French touch of the Pacific
Its always recommended that you book flights with date flexibility in case of unforeseen changes due to weather or schedules. Accommodation options if you want to stay ashore either side of the trip: AirBNB, Booking.com, Wotif & HomeAway.
Promo New Caledonia, Pacific heart
A land of contrasts blending exotic Oceanian culture and French sophistication, New Caledonia presents an unrivalled range of landscapes, cultures and activities. Turquoise lagoons, white sandy beaches, red-soiled wilderness, lush mountains and golden plains co-exist in a gentle sub-tropical climate.
- Southport to Middleton Reef, Elizabeth Reef and Lord Howe Island Passage: 17 – 24 Nov 2019
- Lord Howe Island to Sydney Passage: 23 – 28 Nov 2019
- Tasmania Circumnavigation: 27 Jan – 10 Feb 2020
- Hobart to Picton Tasman Sea Passage: 8 – 22 Mar 2020
- Picton New Zealand to Southport Australia Passage: 12 – 26 April 2020
We hope to see you soon
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