This was the start of the 2012 around New Caledonia yacht race. The 600 nautical mile race course goes southeast, beating into the wind, around the southern end of Grande Terre, and then up the east coast of Grande Terre with a following wind, around the northernmost branch of the world's second largest barrier coral reef, and then beats hard into the wind down the west coast. Normally it takes between 4 to 5 days for all the yachts to make it back to Noumea.
The start was in nearly calm conditions with just 5 to 8 knots of variable winds - perfect for my attempt to capture the action on my sphere camera (made of 7 WiFi connected GoPro Hero2 action cameras).
As I write this, the boats are now charging down the west coast of New Caledonia and the yacht in this photo is second in IRC overall and 5th in line honours. I can follow the progress of the yachts real-time on the official race site www.groupamarace.nc which is pretty neat. The lovely calm weather at the start has picked up to 20+ knot trade winds, just in time to make the three day fatique factor a real challenge.
The yachts are just over 120 miles from Noumea. If the winner arrives during the day I'll try to get a sphere image of the winner crossing the finish line.
Noumea is the capital and vacation centre of the Islands of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Noumea is a "French" city, but the 91,000 inhabitants are a very mixed cultural group with French, Melanesian, Polynesian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and lots of mixtures of these. Over 60% of the population of New Caledonia lives in Noumea.Noumea is a peninsula on the southwestern end of Grande Terre and the central business district (Centre Ville) is next to one of the best natural harbours in the South Pacific. The lagoon side of the peninsula has two picturesque bays with white sand beaches and is called Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons. These twin bays are the international tourism capital of New Caledonia with hotels, restaurants and bars on the landward side of "La Promenade".First settled by the French in 1854, Noumea retains close political ties with France. It has excellent schools and public facilities - parks, recreation areas, exercise paths, schools and medical facilities. Today it is the fastest growing city in the South Pacific. There are 23 hotels in Noumea ranging from one to five stars and over 100 Restaurants.