Sunday, 31 March 2013

Olympics : Franck Cammas in the Olympic Nacra 17 class

Franck Cammas on board the Groupama M34. Image copyright Yann Riou/Groupama.

by Vincent Borde, with some additional material from SailRaceWin

The Olympic Games are to the sailing dinghy, what the America’s Cup is to racing, the Volvo Ocean Race to the Round the World or the single-handed the Vendée Globe.

Equipped with such an aura, the Olympics are naturally the priority for the majority of inshore racers with a talent for dinghy sailing.

And it’s here that the difficulty begins since a single representative per nation will be selected to participate in the Olympics. This contrasts with numerous disciplines like athletics, where we’ve been able to see the Jamaicans, for example, on the two highest steps of the podium in the last 100 metres.

A new Olympic series, the Nacra 17 doesn’t escape the rule of a single boat selection.

Being driven by a mixed crew is a first. The Nacra 17 is a catamaran equipped with foils, which, in certain conditions, enable the boat to imitate its big brothers, the AC72s of America’s Cup fame, because it is lifted out of the water.

In a bid to gain selection and hence represent France at the Rio Games in 2016, Franck Cammas has opted for three-time World Laser Champion, 32-year old Sophie de Turckheim as crew.

Both members of the French team’s “Elite” category, they have the following three couples as training partners: 
  • Moana Vaireaux – Manon Audinet
  • Audrey Ogereau – Matthieu Vandame 
  • Billy Besson - Marie Riou
To train them up, a certain Franck Citeau from the Centre d’Entraînement de Méditerranée (Mediterranean Training Centre), has set up a very specific sailing programme, which initially favours the discovery of a craft through the long tacks of a speed test, before going on to perform a sequence of manoeuvres, start phases and then contact phases.
The Groupama M34 trains against Courrier Dunkerque off Lorient prior to Spi-Ouest. Image copyright Yann Riou/Groupama.

Not able to be everywhere at once, Franck won’t participate in the first competition of the year in Palma de Majorca over Easter weekend, as he is racing the M34 at Spi Ouest-France Intermarché at La Trinité, in preparation for the Tour de France à la Voile.

A torn spinnaker, and the rule requirement of a return to the pontoons to change this, led the Groupama team to score maximum points in two races at Spi Ouest yesterday, followed by scoring a bullet on their return to the course! Groupama's training partner, Courrier Dunkerque, is now well established in the overall lead in the M34 class.

We’ll have to wait for the French Olympic Week in Hyères from 21 to 26 April to get a more accurate idea of the level of the French Nacra 17 crews compared with the rest of the world, as well the level of the Groupama crew.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Franck is managing two other projects elsewhere: the M34 and the C-Class, so for now he isn’t able to devote as many hours to training as he’d like to in this new challenge.