Monday, 18 May 2009

Mediterranean Record Holders, Groupama 3's Crew on Their Experience

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

By crossing the finish line of the Trans-Mediterranean record at 00 hours 27 minutes and 23 seconds UT on Saturday morning, the Groupama 3 trimaran helmed by Franck Cammas and his six crew, beat the previous record by 48 minutes and 10 seconds, which had been held by Orange 2 since 2004.

Setting out from Marseilles on Friday at 0719 UT, Groupama 3 covered the 458 nautical miles (830 km) in 17 hours, 8 minutes and 23 seconds at an average speed of 26.72 knots. With this new record, Groupama 3 brings the total number of its successes to five since 2007: Discovery Route record, Miami New-York record, North Atlantic Crossing record and finally the 24 hour record, which makes it the fastest boat in the world.

Groupama 3 was welcomed into the port of Hammamet, situated around a hundred nautical miles from Carthage, late this Saturday morning, by the Tunisian press which is rather unfamiliar with this type of boat. Further well-wishers included colleagues from the Star, a subsidiary to the insurer Groupama. Right now the crew of Groupama 3 is now benefiting from a well earned rest: "Even though the record is fairly short, we're all tired. This is due to the intensity of the effort as well as the stress because, over this duration, the slightest mistake is fatal. Indeed I'd like to thank my crew, who manoeuvred perfectly in conditions which were difficult at times as the sea was short and choppy in the Mediterranean" reported Franck Cammas on his arrival quayside.

This talented crew appeared happy: "We really enjoyed ourselves. It was full-on but the atmosphere was very serene. It's nice to be able to sail in these conditions" explained Frédéric Le Peutrec. "Hearty congratulations need to go to the shore crew who prepared Groupama 3. We weren't sparing with her, far from it, and yet she held together perfectly. The quality of this preparation is also one of the keys to our success".

Not far away, there's another sailor with a smile on his face. A sailor as discrete as he is enthusiastic, Lionel Lemonchois has just performed a very fine double: "I was aboard Orange 2 when we set the record in 2004. To beat it this year aboard Groupama 3 really appeals to me. And so much the better if I bring luck to crews which invite me aboard" says the almost embarrassed winner of the Route du Rhum.

Questioned about the reasons for this success, Lemonchois continues: "Groupama 3 is less long and less heavy than Orange 2. It's a boat which has a certain finesse about it, which goes fast, even without much sail aloft. It is more reminiscent of a 60 foot trimaran than Orange 2. To helm her is a sheer delight" concludes the holder of the best peak of speed with 42.62 knots.

Always very precise in his analysis, the skipper of Groupama 3 remains a perfectionist: "We could have done better, particularly over the final third of the course as our weather forecast wasn't very accurate. The wind was lighter than forecast and, above all, very irregular. There was a way of gaining an extra hour".
The skipper of the trimaran is in no way dissatisfied with the five records however: "Groupama 3 really slips along nicely downwind. It's interesting for the other two record attempts we'll be performing this year : the North Atlantic which we already hold, but which will enable us in particular to train the crew for the Jules Verne Trophy. We have a very fine crew and an excellent boat. It's very encouraging".

This is a viewpoint shared by Thomas Coville, a member of the victorious crew: "Groupama 3 really is a well designed boat, right down to the finest detail. It's fairly rare on a craft of this size and very enriching to share the projects of a team like Groupama".

Not very chatty, Ronan Le Goff and Loïc Le Mignon leave Stève Ravussin the opportunity to conclude: "The year has started off well, as it did in 2007. It's a good sign."

And whilst the crew recuperates, the shore crew made up of Yann Merour, Olivier Kerzero and Sam Thomas clean and check Groupama 3 in order that she's fit for her next sail: Hammamet - Valencia, Valencia - Lisbon and finally Lisbon - New York where she'll begin her stand-by for the Atlantic Record attempt on 7th July 2009.

The crew of the trimaran for the record comprised:
1) Franck Cammas
2) Frédéric Le Peutrec
3) Stève Ravussin
4) Loïc Le Mignon
5) Ronan Le Goff
6) Lionel Lemonchois
7) Thomas Coville

Cammas - Groupama

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