Friday, 3 July 2009

Groupama 3 in New York and Groupama 40 in Hyères

Groupama 40 in training. Image copyright Yvan Zedda.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Once again Groupama team is everywhere at once. Arriving in New York last night where she is being switched to the necessary configuration for an attempt at the Transatlantic record, the crew of Groupama 3 will have to follow the performance of Groupama 40 via the internet as she competes at Hyères, in France's Var region, where Franck Cammas is helming in the second stage of the iShares Cup.

Today was a training day for the second stage of the iShares Cup in Hyères; with two coastal courses on the menu, followed by a short race just off the port's jetties. Suffice to say that the spectacle of 12 metre catamarans sailing beam to beam was a fabulous one, particularly when they're helmed by renowned champions such as James Spithill, Loïck Peyron, Yann Guichard, Mike Golding and of course Franck Cammas.

Though the two coastal courses were beautifully won by Eric Maris and his crew on Luna Rossa, it is worth mentioning the great consistency of the winner of the first stage of the iShares Cup TPM, Gitana Extreme. Decidedly very quick, the Tornado champion has visibly relocated the automatic reflexes gained during numerous Olympic preparations carried out over recent years.

As for Groupama 40, the day was far from gloomy. Incisive during the starting procedures, tactically prudent as they favoured the middle ground, Franck Cammas and his crew have been highly consistent and always made it into the top four today. Will this be enough to stand out and earn themselves a podium place?

"The general level is high. More than the performance though it's the cohesion of the crew, the quality of the manoeuvres and a touch of opportunism which will make the difference. It's up to us to be in the action, to make as few errors as possible and be able to make the most of those mistakes the others make. We have a fine crew for that with Tanguy Cariou on tactics, Fred Le Maistre on the bow and Thierry Fouchier trimming the headsails. We get on well and we're highly motivated" analyses Franck Cammas, who concludes by asking for news of the crew on Groupama 3 who have just reached New York: "I monitored their crossing and did their routing for the first two thirds of the delivery. They've sailed well. Crossing the Atlantic in that direction in seven days is a fine performance".

Groupama 3 arrives in New York. Loïc Dorez/Team Groupama.

On the East Coast of the United States, the Boat Manager on Groupama 3 also enquired as to the ambitions of Groupama 40 in Hyères; a race zone he knows well through having often sailed there in a Tornado: "So, are the guys doing well?".

Getting back down to business the skipper looks back at the crossing: "The boat is faultless. Even though she was heavy, due notably to the engine, and we didn't power her up too hard, she perfectly fulfilled our expectations. She was back to her old self, easy to handle and still as responsive as ever, particular in a medium breeze. These are important characteristics which will enable us to be efficient over a fifty day period next winter".

As to the crew and newcomers like Bernard Stamm and Lionel Lemonchois, Fred Le Peutrec doesn't need to dwell on the matter for long: "They have years of collective skills and experience. Their presence aboard is obvious. It's straightforward. It's noteworthy but not exceptional, so obvious is it".

It's the same scenario for Olivier Mainguy, a member of the shore crew in charge of the rig, who will be a bowman during the next Atlantic record attempt: "He's working flat out; always precise and very committed. It's also down to him and his splicing that we're in a position to trim Groupama 3 precisely. He knows her like the back of his hand".

In Gateway Marina, the shore crew are preparing the boat, dismantling the engine, and removing anything that no longer has a place. As dusk closes in, Groupama 3 pulls at her warps. The same is true of her crew.

Cammas - Groupama

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