Saturday, 29 May 2010

Extreme Sailing Series Europe: Groupama Kicks off in Sète

Fleet in action during the first day of the Extreme Sailing Series 2010 in Sète. Image copyright Vincent Curuchet/DPPI/OC Events.

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Committed to sailing for the past twelve years alongside Franck Cammas, holder of the Jules Verne Trophy and now preparing for the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, Groupama is also closely following his participation in the Extreme 40 circuit for the second year running. The first event of the 2010 season, the Sète stage, began today for the eight competing crews.

Three races were scheduled off the Saint Louis jetty, which marks the entrance to the fishing port of Sète. Coloured by glorious sunshine and a fine, if not always steady breeze, the Olympic champions and ocean racing specialists like Hagara, Guichard, Booth, Cammas and Peyron had an absolute ball on what were slightly longer courses than usual.

With three different race winners, in the form of Guichard, Booth and Cammas, it's clear that the level of the competitors is very uniform and that every mistake has to be paid for in cash.

Groupama 40 in Sète. Image copyright Vincent Curuchet/DPPI/OC Events.

As far as this little game was concerned, the crew of Groupama 40 lost out big time on the first race, dropping from second to sixth through an unfavourable wind shift of 60°: "That's the nature of the beast sometimes. There was nothing we could do sadly, because you had to be behind to make the most of it" explained the tactician on Groupama 40, Tanguy Cariou. However, in the little game of `who loses wins', Loïck Peyron suddenly found himself bumped up to within a boat length of victory, despite previously being back in fifth position at the previous mark, quite a long way behind the leader, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild.

During the next two races, the wind still wasn't proving very regular, but was probably easier to predict. Forced to rack their brains, the tacticians nevertheless opted for opposite sides of the race zone with varying degrees of success, as was the case for Groupe Edmond de Rothschild who finished last in Race 2 after winning the first. More prudent, Groupama 40 favoured a course down the middle of the race zone, which proved pretty successful: "We got off to some good starts and sailed rather well. However, it's only the first day with three races contested and over twenty more to race. As such we're going to remain concentrated and will take each race as it comes" concluded Tanguy Cariou.

Winner of the third and final race of the day, the crew of Groupama 40 were certainly satisfied with their performance, but they're also very much aware that with the short courses which are on tomorrow's programme, the overall ranking will change very quickly.

Third overall behind Guichard and Booth, Franck Cammas and his three crew are right in the action, with the weather forecasts suggesting a slightly less steady wind on Friday for the six to eight races scheduled from 1330 hours.

Cammas - Groupama
Extreme Sailing Series Europe