Wednesday, 30 December 2009

JVT: Check-up for Groupama 3

François Salabert helming Groupama 3 on her way back up the Atlantic Ocean.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Expected to make landfall in Lorient early yesterday evening, in the end it took Groupama 3 until 2330 hours to tie up in her home port in an absolute downpour. Soaked to the skin but happy, the crew of the maxi trimaran took 16 and a half days to make it back from Cape Town, South Africa. Welcomed home by Franck Cammas and his team, the ten crew will now be able to enjoy a much deserved break as the technicians take over to prepare Groupama 3 for a fresh attempt to conquer the Jules Verne Trophy the minute the weather conditions are favourable at the start of 2010.

Wearing a beard, the features slightly drawn despite a big, telling smile of pleasure on making landfall, Fred Le Peutrec is a fulfilled skipper: "The delivery trip went very smoothly with a crew made up of some excellent sailors, half of which were on Groupama 3 for the first time. We've sailed well and I really appreciated the role of skipper, which requires you to shoulder a large amount of responsibility and to make decisions in view of what were difficult weather forecasts at times, particularly over recent days". However, Fred is also a happy man: "We're all delighted about making it home and seeing our families and children again to celebrate Christmas, which will certainly be joyful albeit a little late".

Seated at the table despite the late hour (thank you to the team at La Base restaurant), the sailors and landlubbers didn't waste any time exchanging their impressions of the voyage, giving their opinion about Groupama 3 and about the work which will ensue: "It really is a superb boat, that is very pleasant to helm. She never stops but she does require a great deal of attention" says Ludovic Aglaor, the current holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, who came along especially to see his friends Jacques Caraës and Ronan Le Goff.

Alongside him, Clément Surtel continues: "Each time it was my turn at the helm, the first ten minutes were stressful as I was only just finding my feet on Groupama 3, which is very sensitive. The following fifty minutes were a pure delight, to the extent that I found it hard to give up my position to the next person. I really appreciated the atmosphere onboard too. It was fantastic".

As for Eric Lamy, a full-time member of the Groupama team for a number of years, he will shoulder the role of Boat Captain at the end of the Jules Verne Trophy. The pleasure he experienced when sailing was only equalled by seeing his two daughters and his wife again: "The climb up the Atlantic was really great and I now know my way around Groupama 3 really well. She goes very quickly. When you're helming and you see the number 37 indicating the boat speed, you tell yourself how lucky you are to be where you are. It's magical" concludes the very talented sailor and cook.

Passing from group to group, Franck Cammas thanks the crew which have returned Groupama 3 safely back to port. Already the list of work to be carried out over the next few days is taking shape in the skipper's mind: "We're going to change the standing rigging as it's already covered over half a circumnavigation of the globe and it would be risky to keep it. We're also going to reinforce the centreline on the aft edge of the floats where the engineers have identified a weak point. The rest of the work will now focus on the smaller details due to the normal wear and tear after 16,000 miles on the water".

Happy to see his men and his trimaran again, Cammas hasn't lost sight of his objective, the Jules Verne Trophy: "We're closely monitoring the evolution in the weather with Sylvain Mondon from Météo France. For the time being there is no weather window. As such Fred (Le Peutrec), Ronan (Le Goff) and Jacco (Caraës), who all made the delivery trip aboard Groupama 3, will be able to get some rest before setting off around the world with the same crew as during our last attempt".

With the lateness of the hour, the crew gradually leave La Base to get home to a dry, motionless bed. On the pontoon, it's now over to the technicians to be on watch.

The crew of Groupama 3 for this delivery trip were:

1. Fred Le Peutrec
2. Ronan Le Goff
3. Jacques Caraës
4. Eric Lamy
5. François Salabert
6. Clément Surtel
7. Ludovic Aglaor
8. Thierry Duprés du Vorsent
9. Mayeul Riflet
10. Nick Legatt

Cammas - Groupama

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