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Route du Rhum 1998

Image of the month - February 1999

Wave Height every noon during the race (VAGAtla model forecasts), and wind speed at the location of the sailboat. Click on the picture to see the animation (850 Kb). (Argos positioning: triangle :L Bourgnon ; star : F. Joyon ; circle : L. Peyron). (Credits Météo France/CLS)

While the ocean is observed by Topex/Poseidon, sailboat race competitors are watched over by the Argos system. Combined data sets - altimetry and Argos/GPS - can be used to compare the results of different navigation strategies.

The 1998 Route du Rhum transatlantic sailboat race was won by Laurent Bourgnon, who broke his own previous record for the event of 14 days, completing the crossing from St. Malo on the north coast of France to Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe in 12 days. Bourgnon's decision to take the northern route proved the right one, as Loïc Peyron was only able to finish fifth despite taking the shortest route, while Francis Joyon finished seventh after heading south and then west in search of the tradewinds.

The weather during the Atlantic crossing was fairly calm after a stormy start. The winds were right for the competitors throughout the race, with no delays for dead calm seas at any stage. Wave heights reached 10 meters in the northern Atlantic zone, but after initial storms in the Mer d'Iroise west of Brest on the first day of the race had died down, the competitors faced nothing worse than five-meter waves.

Winds along the routes of three competitors. Skippers' locations shown here, given by Argos/GPS, are spaced every 6 hours; arrows show wind speed once daily (ARPEGE model forecasts). (Credits Météo-France/CLS)

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