Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Extreme Sailing Series Europe: Fifth in Sète for Groupama 40

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

by Vincent Borde and Caroline Muller

Third at the end of the first day of racing, then fourth on the second and third days, Groupama 40 slid down one more place on this last day of racing, following the cancellation of the final race. It's a cruel blow but Franck Cammas and his crew have their minds on their four race victories out of the 20 contested, as well as the progress they need to make to perform better during the next events.

The day did in fact start off very well for the Groupama Team on the race zone of Sète, with a second, first, fourth and sixth place during the first four races. At that stage in the race, Groupama 40 was still in with a chance of making the top three as she was just five points shy of The Wave Muscat and had a sizeable lead over Ecover.

Next up, race management announced a further two races in a steadily increasing wind, but Groupama 40 messed up the start of the 20th race. She then managed to get back into the action, before being forced to make a last chance manoeuvre to respect the rules of priority with another boat on the final upwind leg. After having to come to a complete standstill, Franck and his crew dug deep to catch up with the backrunners, before being blocked again as they tried to round the mark. They ultimately crossed the finish line in last position, whilst their direct rival Ecover, won the race. As such Groupama 40 lost all the advantage gained over her very good opening races.

After putting in a reef for what was set to be the final race, which counts for double points, Franck Cammas and his crew prepared to give it their all to get past Ecover and hang onto her fourth place in the overall ranking.

However, that's where their luck ran out as the race committee decided not to take any chances in a wind which could have peaked at as much as 30 knots late in the day. As a result their previous result came back to haunt them as their last place now counted for double, enabling Ecover to get ahead of Groupama 40 in the overall ranking, without even having to race.

Back alongside, Franck Cammas and his crew were clearly disappointed by the outcome: "It's a shame because we hadn't sailed badly and we were making steady progress over each of the twenty races contested" but they were nonetheless realistic: "The top two, Groupe Edmond de Rothshild and Oman Masirah are a notch better than us. If we want to be in a position to beat them during the next races, we're going to have to get off to some better starts and be more consistent. That's the strength they have right now" explained the skipper of Groupama 40.

Keenly followed by the vast number of spectators thronging around the Saint Louis jetty, especially on Sunday, this first event in the Extreme Sailing Series in Sète has been a great success with some very fine winners, who didn't let the top spot slip away from them throughout the four days of racing.

His team is now dismantling Groupama 40, so as he can join up with her again in Lorient and then Cowes, where the next event will be held at the start of August. Meanwhile Franck Cammas will get back to the rest of his Team in Lorient to assist them with the relaunch of the maxi trimaran Groupama 3, the recent winner of the Jules Verne Trophy, aboard which he will compete in the next edition of the Route du Rhum - La Banque Postale.

Cammas - Groupama
Extreme Sailing Series Europe